Reopening of Schools
As an educator who is age 66 with other risk factors, the safe reopening of schools is of great concern. As members of my household also possess risk, the possibility of exposing them is also a concern.
The necessity for both students and staff to be required to wear either masks or face shields should not be a matter of debate. It is the sensible precaution that can and should be required in order to protect students and staff. Research out of VCU just this week demonstrates that masks significantly reduce the possibility of transmission of the virus. I far care less about those who feel requiring a mask somehow infringes upon their freedom than I do about science and research that supports wearing masks.
I am personally not comfortable with the supposition that Virginia schools can open as normal this fall. To open in anything less than a cautious incremental fashion would place both students and staff at risk.
The notion that COVID-19 is contracted only by the elderly and infirm is being disproven on a daily basis. As of today, at least four cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome have been identified in children living in Northern Virginia. In addition, further research provides evidence of increasing numbers of cases in young adults. Otherwise healthy individuals have contracted the disease and additional risk factors are still being isolated. At this juncture, it appears that absolutely no one can be guaranteed to be immune from the virus.
Unless appropriate precautions such as social distancing, use of masks, temperature checks, and the like are REQUIRED to be implemented in the school setting, there can be little doubt that outbreaks will occur. One need only look at South Korea to see how a gradual reopening resulted in an almost immediate re-closure when the number of cases began to spike.
I urge the VDOH to proceed with all caution and good common sense. Do not allow emotion to override research and the resulting data.
Megan S. Link, 30-year educator Prince William County Public Schools