Douglas County Reopening Regrets

On Nov. 12, DCSD interim superintendent, Corey Wise, announced that all students will be moving to remote learning after Thanksgiving break. This decision was reached when DCSD accounted for nearly 5,000 students and staff members in quarantine, in addition to 13 schools already on remote learning. 

In the beginning of the school year, DCSD chose to provide a hybrid learning option and a fully remote option. The hybrid option was provided on the premise that COVID-19 cases were going down, and containment of the virus was almost 100 percent. But were these requirements really met?

With the rise in COVID-19 cases in Douglas County, district administrators have decided to make all schools convert to fully remote learning. Graphic by Kofi Kessey

According to the New York Times, around 500 new COVID-19 cases were being reported consistently each day in Colorado for a month prior to the start of the school year.

Even though these numbers were consistent, new daily reported Colorado COVID-19 cases never exceeded 1,000, even back to April when the first stay-at-home order was issued. Even so, 500-1,000 cases a day doesn’t show any sort of containment or decrease of the virus that would be optimal for the reopening of schools.

Social distancing and mask wearing proved to be effective when decreasing cases to allow public places to reopen. On the other hand, when dealing with school age children, social distancing and mask wearing can be a challenge to enforce. 

According to an article published by Louis Freedberg, EdSource reporter, “One of the biggest worries of school administrators is how to ensure social distancing in a school setting. Significantly, the draft guidance does not require six-feet distancing for students, except for six feet between the teacher’s desk and their students.”

However, the risk of shutting down schools, and even stopping students from attending extracurricular activities, can negatively impact mental health. The feeling of isolation takes a toll on people and especially if the person is dependent on social interactions.

Prior to the start of November, Colorado COVID-19 cases are on the rise and isn’t looking like they will slow down anytime soon. Infographic by NY Times

“Coronavirus is affecting the mental health of many people. Data from recent studies show an increase in distress, anxiety and depression, particularly among health care workers,” according to the Pan American Health Organization. “These, in addition to violence, alcohol use disorders, substance abuse, and feelings of loss, are important factors that can increase a person’s risk of deciding to take their own lives.”

The mental health side of shutting down will be an obstacle for students and even staff members, but better access to mental health support for students and staff will be necessary to effectively shut down and to limit the risks. 

Given that COVID-19 cases are back on the rise, schools are beginning to shut down again in order to take back control of the virus. However, schools should have never reopened in Colorado based on the rate of new daily cases and how contagious this virus really is.

Kofi Kessey, Staff Reporter