Now is not the time for students to go back to school. Here’s why

Rising+COVID-19+cases+make+Montgomery+County%27s+plans+to+reopen+a+safety+hazard.+

Courtesy of montgomerycountymd.gov

Rising COVID-19 cases make Montgomery County’s plans to reopen a safety hazard.

Given the current state of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates, it would be worse to send students back to school any time soon.

The Board of Education previously announced metrics that they now believe to be too strict. On December 15, the BOE plans to reevaluate these metrics, and lower the standard to allow for students return to in-person learning.

The rate of COVID-19 related hospitalizations is increasing, and has even passed the numbers in spring. The previous highest amount being 1,711 on April 30, now the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is over 1,715.

Sending students back to school when the number of cases is almost three times worse than what the CDC recommends is wrong, endangers not only students, but the families they go home to. Though the proposed plan is for students to be phased in throughout the rest of the year, it still comes with some risk.

The previously proposed plan, which the BOE rejected last week, follows metrics that would not allow students to return to school. To return, there must be an average positivity rate less than five percent, and a certain amount of average case increase over two weeks. As of now the county does not meet any of these requirements and would remain virtual. The county averages 28.1 cases per 100,000 people, and has a positivity rate more than five percent.

Allowing for these metrics to become weaker would have a negative impact on the county, increasing the possibility for infection and transmission across a large demographic. Schools that have weaker metrics and let students return early, have had to close due to sweeping infection rates. The proposed metrics allow for students to return to school in a safe environment, with minimal chance of exposure to the virus.

Bringing students back sooner and in a larger amount increases the likelihood of them becoming infected. Without phasing-in students properly, especially in the second peak of the pandemic, only puts them at more risk. The metrics need to be absolutely full-proof, in a way that doesn’t endanger students, and puts them back in the safest time possible.

Learning in person may be better for most students, but it’s not worth it when the number of cases is higher than it was in March 2020. If you feel strongly about the decision, there is a petition to urge the school board to stay with the previously announced metrics.

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