Betsy Devos, U.S. Secretary of Education, has vowed to have schools open in the fall. “Kids have got to get back to school,” she says. And, like her boss, she is intent on classes being held in-person, not-online, full-time. The exact details on how to accomplish this, she says, should be left to local school systems because, you know, freedom. Since Secretary DeVos has not offered specific guidance (beyond a demand to reopen), her answers to the questions below might help school systems work through the logistics of reopening in the context of the currently worsening pandemic.
So, Betsy DeVos, how do you answer the following questions about reopening schools in fall?
- If a teacher tests positive for COVID-19 are they required to quarantine for 2-3 weeks? Is their sick leave covered, paid?
- If that teacher has 5 classes a day with 30 students each, do all 150 of those students need to then stay home and quarantine for 14 days?
- Do all 150 of those students now have to get tested? Who pays for those tests? Are they happening at school? How are the parents being notified? Does everyone in each of those kids’ families need to get tested? Who pays for that?
- What if someone who lives in the same house as a teacher tests positive? Does that teacher now need to take 14 days off of work to quarantine? Is that time off covered? Paid?
- Where is the district going to find a substitute teacher who will work in a classroom full of exposed, possibly infected students for substitute pay?
- Substitutes teach in multiple schools. What if they are diagnosed with COVID-19? Do all the kids in each school now have to quarantine and get tested? Who is going to pay for that?
- What if a student in your kid’s class tests positive? What if your kid tests positive? Does every other student and teacher that they have been around quarantine? Do we all get notified who is infected and when? Or, because of HIPAA regulations, are parents and teachers just going to get mysterious “may have been in contact” emails all year long?
- What is this stress going to do to our teachers? How does it affect their health and well-being? Or their ability to teach? How does it affect the quality of education they are able to provide? What is it going to do to our kids? What are the long-term effects of consistently being stressed out?
- How will it affect students and faculty when the first teacher in their school dies from this? The first parent of a student who brought it home? The first kid?
- How many more people are going to die, that otherwise would not have if we had stayed home longer?
If reopening schools in the fall is a good idea, let’s shine a light on why it is so. Truth withstands scrutiny. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, please answer.