Traversing the tempestuous waters of the Coronavirus pandemic for nearly a year and a half has been no simple lift for universities, schools, local and large-scale businesses, medical care centers, etc., let alone the entire global body; like a pendulum, said pandemic has swung in either direction, favoring one side at a time, and therefore establishing an unsteady expectation for what the upcoming future holds. Interglobally, we have been no less than blindsided, for the piques of “recovery, or healing,” have rusted at the feet of leaking issuance, making it that much more difficult—specifically on behalf of the aforementioned institutions—to establish or lift mandates that won’t otherwise be opposed or overruled by the tottering locomotion of the pandemic itself.
When honing in on scholastic institutions-universities and schools nationwide—it is important to note that each of the fifty states have taken to handling the coronavirus pandemic differently based on the statistics in their own region; because the diagnosed-rate of coronavirus cases continues to spiral in an upward trend throughout the United States, specifically in areas that contain a low rate of vaccinated-individuals, the issue is not HOW children and students in general will thrive in a safe scholastic environment; it is WILL they maintain access to such, even during trying/testing times like those of the present. According to a CNN article written on behalf of Christina Zdanowicz, regarding both mask and vaccination mandates, the push for masks in schools alongside vaccinations (which have not yet been made available to any member of the general public who is any younger than twelve years of age) has either dissipated all together or administratively implemented as a necessity. There are two pulls to any pendulum, and in response to the spike in cases, one would expect—surely—that the Newton’s cradle would swing towards the consideration or even complete installment of mask mandates, however said cradle has not always navigated in that one direction. In vicinities such as Houston, Oklahoma, (multiple southern counties in Florida), Arizona, mask mandates are now labeled as an illegality, meaning it is AGAINST the law to implement let alone consider mask mandates in scholastic centers.
Parents/guardians/siblings of students attending those aforementioned scholastic centers, alongside teachers who are employed in said schools, continue to express their concerns for this establishment, collectively stating that they are unsure how to preserve the health and safety of their student body if there is a clear refusal on behalf of their state legislator to implement precautions. It is important to note that there is not only concern surrounding the principle effect of non-masked congregations in scholastic environment(s) (in regards to spreading the virus itself and jeopardizing those students or family members/parents who may be immuno-compromised), but also the fact that parents/guardians fear circumstances will reset, as in the drawing board will be re-summoned, and clouds of chalk will encircle the trace of month-long quarantine(s) and e/online-learning. For one, in my own school, located in the state of New York, the board of education has made it a point to mandate masks or facial wear that can hinder the probability of “contagion.” Of course there has been some protest on behalf of student-families, however it is fair to state that a majority of the student body has understood this mandate as a safety precaution that will preserve our health amidst the pandemic itself. Virtual/online/hybrid learning models have been deemed unnecessary in practically every state (like that of my own), which can pose as either beneficial or ineffective, however it is important to note that several (thousands) of students across the nation (including myself) may reside with or alongside a family member/guardian that is immunocompromised or prone to further health complications if they were to host the coronavirus. Not having a hybrid or virtual model of learning to fall back on is both inconsiderate, and dangerous.
The idea that the health of my own (or another individual’s) family member could be compromised by a rushed transition to in-person school is concerning to myself and several others. Although there may have been difficulties in the past regarding said model—i.e, inability to properly communicate with professors/teachers due to lack of physical one-on-one interaction, mental health issues exacerbated by isolation , etc---having the option to remain home in the case that exposure was an issue posed as the most beneficial. The legislative decision established on behalf of the aforementioned states—Oklahoma, Texas, etc—is truly counter-intuitive. The fact that the aforementioned states are doing everything in their power to avoid the onset of hybrid/online learning, though they continue to refute maks mandates just, point(s) out their lack of rationale; the disregard of mask mandates will only influence mass-contagion, which would then not only call for an online model, but also for a hindrance in education on behalf of the student body. It is by NO means necessary to construct an entirely new educative-replica, however, if a state hosts a spike in coronavirus cases (in their very own scholastic region), they would surely have to fall back onto said model.
When weighing both the pro’s and con’s of returning back to school with limited mandates in regards to safety precautions surrounding the coronavirus and the most efficient way to dodge such, it is important to not only prioritize the physical condition of the student body (and the guardians/family members they reside alongside) but also the MENTAL conditions surrounding their circumstances. Amidst all of the ambiguity regarding when normalcy will be breached, children and young adults continue to grapple with the layer of nuance they have been suffocated within for nearly a year and a half, and with this in mind, consistency may pose as the most vital factor that debuts said “normalcy,” Let us fabricate a situation for one second, shall we; the legislative board of a school in Houston, Texas, chooses to implement optional mask wearing, as in it is up to the student themselves and their guardian whether or not they attend school with a bacterium barrier on their face. Halfway through the first month, the aforementioned legislative body of the school in Houston then decides that masks are to be implemented (as an OBLIGATORY measure for safety)—now, students who had become adjusted to not wearing masks in scholastic terrain will have to resume their hold on normalcy, and return back to the inconsistent measures taken to grapple with the virus at hand. If you were to re-phrase the same fabricated situation and replace the term mask with “hybrid learning,” (as in, it was once optional, and now it is either completely unavailable or enforced) a similar outcome would arise in response to inconsistency—this being that constant re-adaptation will be undergone on behalf of the student body, which then immediately targets the mental state(s) and health of said student body. Therefore, it is important to note that regardless of what states choose to implement/enforce/or disregard, both mental and physical condition(s) of the subjects at hand shall be considered (in the wake of upcoming covid-related decisions), rather than disregarded for the benefit of posing as a “non-conformist” locality that does not need to protect themselves and others from the enduring pandemic--the enduring pandemic that has stripped the lives of nearly 4,474,991 and counting.