To those of you who do not know who I am, my name is Melissa Lushington. I am a proud lion cub of the learning facility known as Community College of Philadelphia, where my major is Communications, and my studying profession is journalism. Earlier this year, I took two courses for most of the spring 2020 semester in person. It was only after spring break in March that COVID-19 had its major outbreak in America, schools were shutting down all across the globe, and college campuses, including Community College of Philadelphia, were having their courses transferred online. Having my courses be transferred online for the remaining few weeks of the semester was, at many times, a stressful experience for me due to the process of having to learn new material on my own as well as having to work on major projects and assignments on my own as well. Thankfully, by the end of the semester, I was able to succeed in passing both my courses, receiving an ‘A’ overall. This year, all classes for summer and fall semesters transferred to online distance learning, which I am sure many people have agreed to participate in this learning process. However, government officials including the white house itself have been pushing for schools to reopen so kids can get back to the classroom and get their education. This has sparked a fiery debate worldwide wherein while some individuals are in favor of reopening schools, others protest against the idea due to the pandemic not being in full control and it would be putting teachers, staff members, faculty, students, and their families in danger.
One thing to consider about reopening schools is that some people believe that the closing of schools could limit a person’s chances of potential growth. In an article titled Reopening Schools Is Key to Unlocking the Full Potential of America’s Children, The Council of Economic Advisers made a statement explaining how keeping children out of public schools would cause adverse effects on them in the future when they state, “Our Nation’s children deserve the very best, and no one should be kept from reaching their full potential. If schools remain closed this fall, many children will continue to face adverse effects from school closures caused by the pandemic shutdown.” Another thing to consider is that reopening schools so soon would be a mistake due to the lack of readiness and confidence people have in the system that is supposed to keep them safe. In an article titled Teachers Know Schools Aren’t Safe to Reopen, Educators David Schepard and Katie Moylan express their fears and concerns about going back to school when they state, “We are high-school teachers in Brooklyn, and we love what we do. We want nothing more than to go back into the classroom and teach our students. However, we have little confidence in New York City’s strategy for reopening during the pandemic.” One last thing to consider, there is a middle ground in between that has people who believe that there is no winning side when it comes to reopening schools because as long as there’s a pandemic, everyone will be at risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. In other words, whether you choose to have children learn in public school or not, people will still face negative consequences. In an article titled, Schools Have No Good Options for Reopening during COVID-19, News Writer Sophie Bushwick confirms this belief when she states, “Whether children attend classrooms or learn remotely at home, each option carries a risk of harm to students, their families, and the adults who work with them.”
In conclusion, there is a virtue that everyone is entitled to free education, but everyone is also entitled to have a healthy and safe one too. All is the matter, and that means teachers matter, that means students matter, that means staff as well as faculty matter, and it means families matter. No one should have to feel like their life does not mean anything, and therefore it is expendable. Everyone should feel like their life matters in the eyes of those who swore to protect and keep them safe. Consequently, I believe that regardless of where people stand in the reopening school debate, the well-being of human lives should always triumph over everything else.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Community College of Philadelphia or its student-run newspaper The Vanguard.