Should MDCPS Temporarily Close Schools After Winter Break?

Priscilla Bermudez, Senior Copy Editor

As the holiday season quickly approaches, the risk of an increase of COVID-19 cases heightens. Experts have issued recommendations to avoid catching and spreading the virus this season. With no guarantee that Americans plan on following them, this raises the issue of the safety of schools after the winter break. Due to the uncertainty of a spike in cases once holidays end, schools should remain virtual and quarantine all students for two weeks to avoid an outbreak in schools and the chaos of contact tracing.

Tips given for the Thanksgiving holiday that also apply to the December holidays include: not traveling, spending the holidays with only immediate family members and, most importantly, staying home and following safe COVID-19 procedures like wearing a mask and social distancing. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control has dedicated a page on questions one should ask oneself and steps one should take prior to winter celebrations. 

Though experts widely advocated for these tips, U.S. air travel still reached a record high since the start of the pandemic. This raises the question of whether Americans intend to strictly follow safety procedures during the last few weeks of 2020.

Since no way to ensure the following of these procedures exists, it poses a risk to students when they return from break. Schools may experience issues when determining which students had less risk of exposure than others. If students do catch COVID-19, the contact tracing done by the school will be hectic and disrupt the normalcy of the students attending physical schools. When some teachers and students remain quarantined, physical students have trouble finding what classroom they should report to and teachers having to teach basically empty classrooms and focus on online kids could disrupt students’ education process. 

The uncertainty of whether COVID-19 cases will spike leads to the conclusion that schools should experience less issues if they have students attend My School Online for the first two weeks following the break. Due to this, students that may have been exposed to the virus can quarantine and find out if they have the virus from the safety of their own homes and those who have no exposure can stay that way. Upon their return, schools would know that the majority of their students have not been exposed to the virus and they can proceed with schooling as usual. 

Closing schools and having students attend MSO for two weeks after break makes it so that students can avoid exposure to COVID-19 and schools can return to the new normalcy once students return.