As schools across the nation continue to be closed and distance learning becomes the norm, life for U.S. students and teachers looks vastly different than it did just a couple of months ago. Logically, it makes complete sense. With the novel coronavirus spreading rapidly, having in-person classes would be incredibly irresponsible — not to mention downright dangerous.
Students, teachers, and parents have still been wondering: Will schools start in the fall?
It's a valid question at this point. Many school systems that started off by closing their doors for a few weeks have since extended their mandatory online learning another month — and some have shut down schools for the rest of the academic year.
It's difficult to say for sure when things will begin to get back to "normal" amid the ever-escalating social distancing mandates. But is it possible COVID-19 could actually affect the 2020/2021 school year? Let's take a closer look.
Will schools start in the fall? Dr. Fauci seems hopeful.
On April 7, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he believes U.S. schools will be in “good shape” for reopening by the time fall rolls around, The Hill reported.
“Bottom line is, no absolute prediction, but I think we're going to be in good shape,” Fauci said at a White House news conference.
Fauci went on to say that "by the time we get to the fall ... we will have this under control enough that it certainly will not be the way it is now, where people are shutting schools.”
Still, some cautionary measures will need to be put in place in order to prevent a serious COVID-19 comeback. Administering widespread COVID-19 testing so that those who are infected with the coronavirus can self-isolate — as well as an antibody test that can confirm whether people have already been infected and are therefore immune — are a couple of approaches Fauci noted.
“It's going to be different, remember now, because this is not going to disappear,” he said. "All of these things are going to go into the decision of just how much back to the original way we'd like it to be in the fall.
So far, a total of 15 states have canceled in-class learning through the remainder of the school year — and many more are considering following suit, according to The Journal. All states have issued formal closure mandates, and 45 states have extended their original closure timeframes.
Washington state has taken things a step further by issuing a warning to its schools to prepare for the possibility of longer closures.
Hopefully, the coronavirus pandemic here in the U.S. will be much less severe by the time August rolls around and it's time for a new academic year to begin. But it's hard to know what to expect. In the meantime, we all have to make sure to continue to do our part in adhering to social distancing mandates.
For now, Dr. Fauci seems optimistic that schools will start back up in the fall — which has offered hope to frustrated teachers and parents who only want the best for their kids.
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.