We cannot imagine what it is like to be a parent planning for the back-to-school window. Each day brings new developments and challenges. And we’ve not yet even begun fall classes.

Parents are confused, rightly so.

Besides COVID-related safety, parents are working to arrange child care and work their employment needs around getting Johnny and Jane to classes.

Two of Galveston’s largest school districts, Clear Creek and Texas City, voted Monday night to push back their originally scheduled back-to-school dates. All the county’s districts still are planning how, when and if they will be able to allow students and employees to resume in-person instruction.

This fall semester will be anything but business as usual.

Typically, these weeks would be filled with purchasing new backpacks, classroom supplies and clothing. But if remote learning is going to be the rule for the beginning of the semester — as many districts are opting for — the school supply list is much different.

On the other side of the equation are school administrators and teachers trying to accomplish their essential charge of educating youth successfully. With a nation’s educational system based on public schooling, COVID-19 is creating a massive challenge for educators.

We feel for both as everyone searches for a solution to serve both needs. Our nation depends greatly on the classroom educational process. Our unscheduled departure because of COVID-19 accelerates our need to resolve how remote learning will function. Until a vaccine arrives, having 30 students in a classroom is a memory of bygone days.

Debates continue to roll across the nation about the safety of opening schools. While some say doing so is safe since younger people are less likely to suffer the more dangerous effects of COVID-19, the main fear is for the teachers and other school staff employees. Bus drivers, food service and janitorial services are populated with adults in higher risk zones. And don’t school children return to homes with adults of all ages? Isn’t the spread rate the real enemy — hospitalization cases exceeding capacity?

But classroom learning provides an essential social setting our children require to develop into adults. Healthy socialization doesn’t occur looking at a computer screen all day. Add in the added impact person-to-person teaching can provide, and we should not be ready to toss out the baby with the bathwater.

There are no easy decisions here. And without state-guided direction, school districts and parents are going to be left to make what they believe is the best decision for students and the public education system.

Regardless of local decisions, let’s hope our actions promote the right balance between health and educational needs. If we don’t, we may find ourselves in this same place again shortly.

• Leonard Woolsey

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

Locations

Recommended for you

(18) comments

Bailey Jones

When kids go back to school, people will get sick, and possibly die. That's just a fact. It may not be a lot of people, but I can imagine the impact of having a favorite teacher in the hospital for several weeks, and possibly returning with diminished capacity. Or the impact on students who have a parent or grandparent become incapacitated, or worse. The decision on how and when to return is one that will have to be made, and it won't be made lightly, and it will probably not satisfy anyone.

Carlos Ponce

"That's just a fact." Since you follow Europe you know in countries where kids still attend school that what you state is not true. Follow the science, Bailey, not the Liberal talking points.

The median age for Wuhan Chinese Corona COVID-19 deaths is 78.

Bailey should stay home. Children should go to school.

What do the doctors say?

"Now, to make an extrapolation that you shouldn't open schools, I think is a bit of a reach." - Dr Anthony Fauci

Jim Forsythe

Carlos. send a letter to Trump and tell him to require his sons school to reopen!

Barron Trump’s School Won’t Fully Reopen---July 24, 2020 at 9:36 am EDT

“The school attended by President Trump’s son will not fully reopen in September out of concern over the coronavirus pandemic despite the president’s insistence that students across the country be brought back to classrooms in the fall,”

“St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, a private school in Washington’s Maryland suburbs, said in a letter to parents that it was still deciding whether to adopt a hybrid model for the fall that would allow limited in-person education or to resume holding all classes completely online as was done in the spring. The school will decide early next month which option to follow.”

Carlos Ponce

"Carlos. send a letter to Trump and tell him to require his sons school to reopen!" That would be abuse of power and since the school is under the auspices of the Episcopal Church a violation of the First Amendment.

Let your heart not be worried, Jim. Mrs. Trump and the Presisident will make certain Baron does not fall behind on his studies.

Jim Forsythe

Carlos said, "Children should go to school." Do you mean that they should be home schooled or in the school buildings, all together?

"Mrs. Trump and the President will make certain Baron does not fall behind on his studies." That not the issue you had!

Many students will be using online schooling, do you Carlos, have a problem with that?

We are facing a teacher shortage because it is estimated that between 20 to 40% of the teachers will not return to the classroom.

With a shortage of teachers it will be hard to use the new guidelines on how a class room is ran. Distancing. disaffecting and such.

When talking to my Sister in Kansas, she said all classrooms will be required to stop each hour, and teachers will have to make sure all the children disinfect their selves.

Carlos Ponce

Children should go to school.

Jim Forsythe

Carlos said, "Children should go to school." Do you mean that they should be home schooled or in the school buildings, all together?

Carlos Ponce

Children should go to school.

Jim Forsythe

Do you mean that they should be home schooled or in the school buildings, all together?

Carlos Ponce

Children should go to school.

Jim Forsythe

Any Child that should be in school and is not when the new school year begins, will be turned over to the proper authorities.

That covers it, all children will be in school.

Bailey Jones

Dr Fauci -

"What's not yet clear is whether children get infected as frequently as adults, and whether they often pass the infection on to others. Ultimately, the decision to reopen schools needs to be predicated on the level of infection in each community. I hesitate to make any broad statements about whether it is or is not quote 'safe' for kids to come back to school.

When you talk about children going back to school and their safety, it really depends on the level of viral activity, and the particular area that you're talking about. What happens all too often, understandably, but sometimes misleadingly, is that we talk about the country as a whole in a unidimensional way.

Children can get infected, so, yes, so you've got to be careful. You've got to be careful for them and you've got to be careful that they may not spread it. Now, to make an extrapolation that you shouldn't open schools, I think is a bit of a reach.

In some situations there will be no problem for children to go back to school. In others, you may need to do some modifications. You know, modifications could be breaking up the class so you don't have a crowded classroom, maybe half in the morning, half in the afternoon, having children doing alternate schedules. There's a whole bunch of things that one can do."

And since I do follow the science happening in Europe, I know that the situation is quite different there. Unlike, Trump, European leaders took the pandemic seriously and took decisive action to get it under control and "flatten the curve". They took care of the problem months ago instead of being an idiot. Their infection rates are declining - ours are rising. So they are in much better shape to reopen schools than we are here in Trumpanistan. Comparing the US to Europe is like comparing Trump to a scientist, or to an effective leader, or to someone who can understand things. And even where they have opened schools - they aren't just opening schools as usual - they are cutting class sizes (hiring many more teachers and finding many more class rooms), staggering school hours, and maintaining social distancing, in short doing all the things that Dr. Fauci says we should be doing.

Are we doing those things, Carlos? Have local school districts found enough extra classrooms, equipment and teachers to cut class size in half to allow for social distancing? If so, I missed that bit of news.

Joe Mancuso

Dr. Fauci's advice is not quite as straight forward as Carlos makes it out to be.

You may want to read the rest of what Dr. Fauci said in the conversation that Carlos quoted (which is from a CNN phone interview with him on June 3, 2020).

"I hesitate to make any broad statements about whether it is or is not quote 'safe' for kids to come back to school," Fauci told CNN. "When you talk about children going back to school and their safety, it really depends on the level of viral activity, and the particular area that you're talking about. What happens all too often, understandably, but sometimes misleadingly, is that we talk about the country as a whole in a unidimensional way."

Fauci seemed to think that keeping schools closed in general was not necessary.

"Children can get infected, so, yes, so you've got to be careful," Fauci said. "You got to be careful for them and you got to be careful that they may not spread it. Now, to make an extrapolation that you shouldn't open schools, I think is a bit of a reach."

Please see https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/03/us/fauci-schools-reopening-coronavirus/index.html and https://www.kmbc.com/article/fauci-weighs-the-pros-and-cons-of-reopening-schools-this-fall-amid-covid-19-1/32762488# for additional information from that conversation with Dr. Fauci.

Also, July 14, 2020: https://globalhealth.georgetown.edu/events/a-conversation-with-anthony-fauci at about 19:38 into the video, Dr. Fauci basically says the same thing - that reopening schools should really be dependent on the status of the virus in the local communities.

July 23, 2020

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/education/article/europe-texas-school-reopen-experts-outbreak-15429128.php

“We do see data from other countries saying they’re safe opening schools, but they are in different scenarios than us,” said Galveston County’s local health authority, Philip Keiser. “We don’t know what the best way to do this is in Galveston and Texas at this point.”

Another good article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/schools-reopening-coronavirus/2020/07/10/865fb3e6-c122-11ea-8908-68a2b9eae9e0_story.html

Dan Freeman

The story is complex without a simple answer. Sweden remained open and had the largest outbreak by far in the Nordic countries.

However, all waited until the virus had been suppressed before re-opening schools. We will be engaged in a national experiment with a patchwork of re-openings of schools. A thoughtful article a can be found in Science: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/school-openings-across-globe-suggest-ways-keep-coronavirus-bay-despite-outbreaks

Bottom line: it will be chancy no matter what is done.

Carlos Ponce

"Sweden remained open and had the largest outbreak by far in the Nordic countries."

Swedish children who died from the virus = 1.

Age 20-29 9 deaths

30-39 16 deaths

40-49 45 deaths

50-59 158 deaths

60-69 389 deaths

70-79 1228 deaths

80-89 2365 deaths

90+ 1486 deaths

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1107913/number-of-coronavirus-deaths-in-sweden-by-age-groups/

Where are the parents and grandparents in these stats? On the lower end.

Ted Gillis

Only racists refer to the COVID 19 Coronavirus as the Wuhan Chinese Corona virus.

We all know you have some pointed views Carlos, but being a racist you’re not.

So please don’t be one of those guys.

Carlos Ponce

Where did the virus originate? Wuhan, China. It's a location, Ted.

Where did the Ebola virus originate? Near the Ebola River. It's a location, Ted.

Where did the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus originate? In the Middle East. It's a location, Ted.

Is Wuhan a race, No. It's a city. Is China a race? No. It's a country.

Ted Gillis

All that is true, but only racists use that term. I’ve heard it in crude conversations on the job site, and it was just that, crude and cringeworthy. Everyone else, physicians, clinical staff, and researchers refer to it as the COVID 19 Coronavirus. All of the published literature that I have read also refers to it as the COVID 19 Coronavirus.

You and I disagree on a lot of things, but we shouldn’t on this. Using the slang version is nothing but a dog whistle to all other racists that you are one of them.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.