“Reopen school!” might be the new rallying cry of American parents.
But what happens if the doors open in September and hardly anyone shows up?
Before we get to that question, parents all across the nation have caught COVID-19 fever and it has them thinking about getting their kids out of the house.
I’m kidding of course, but as this father of two young boys can tell you, four-plus months of various lockdowns have given families everywhere a bad case of cabin fever.
It’s not beginning to look like Christmas in July, but as Meredith Willson wrote in the famous lyric, “mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again.”
Seriously, some days I feel like the woman in the old Mervyn’s department store TV ads, chanting “open, open, open,” while waiting outside for the big sale to start. Except for me it’s, “Reopen school, reopen school, reopen school.”
Whatever the real risks might or might not be — we’ll get to that momentarily — more than two-thirds of parents polled by Rasmussen “say they’re likely to let their kids go back” to school in the fall.
But will the schools reopen this fall?
Education blogger Joanne Jacobs wrote on Tuesday that in Fairfax County, Virginia, teachers say they’ll refuse to return to their classrooms.
The local district is setting up a “hybrid” learning program that will let parents choose between “full-time remote learning or part-time in-person schooling.” But Jacobs writes, “teachers worry they’ll be forced to teach in person if not enough parents sign up for the all-virtual option.”
It should be noted that children barely transmit the COVID-19 infection, according to at least one French study.
Marthe Fourcade reported for Bloomberg last week:
The study confirms that children appear to show fewer telltale symptoms than adults and be less contagious, providing a justification for school reopenings in countries from Denmark to Switzerland. The researchers found that 61% of the parents of infected kids had the coronavirus, compared with about 7% of parents of healthy ones, suggesting it was the parents who had infected their offspring rather than the other way around.
So not only is student-to-teacher transmission unlikely, at least among the younger set, most teachers aren’t in a risk group for COVID-19 death.
The death rate for people under 65 years of age and without any underlying comorbidities is minuscule.
Whatever the benefits are of getting the kids out of the house more regularly, the longterm lockdown and accompanying hemming & hawing on the part of various school districts have more parents considering homeschooling.
PJMedia’s own Jeff Reynolds reported back in May that “six in ten parents said they were likely to homeschool next academic year, with three in ten saying they are very likely.”
North Carolina’s North State Journal noted on Wednesday that “the website for the N.C Department of Administration’s Notice of Intent to Establish a Home School was not available due to volume.”
What we would seem to have here then is more than just parents telling pollsters what they’d like to do whether or not their districts decide to reopen schools.
They’re starting to take concrete actions.
Here at Villa Verde, high atop Monument Hill on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, my wife and I have tried without success to interest our oldest in homeschooling — but to no avail.
There’s a sliding scale of parental expectations that goes like this:
• The things the kids must do
• The things they may or may not do, their choice
• The things they may not do
We’ve always presented homeschooling as an option rather than a requirement, simply because we’ve been more than satisfied with our local schools. But with our oldest entering high school in the fall, and the district still unsure of what high school will actually entail this year, homeschooling might shift up from “things they may or may not do” to “the things the kids must do.”
Like parents everywhere, we’re in a wait-and-see mode until everyone from Gov. Jared “Lock It Down, All of It!” Polis to our local district makes a decision about just how much to reopen school.
As any schoolkid can tell you, the countdown clock to the start of the school year ticks away faster than expected, especially in this crazy summer of 2020.
No matter what parents might say to Rasmussen about how eager they are for the whole reopen school thing, the fact is that surprisingly few kids might be showing up in the fall.