Many parents hoped this school year would mark a return to (relative) normalcy but thousands of students, teachers, and staff are already in quarantine due to hundreds of confirmed COVID cases.

August 17, 2020
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Months ago, many parents looked to the start of a new school year in hopes that it would represent a return to "normal life". But the new school year is here—and we're still very much in the thick of the pandemic. Here's a sobering snapshot of our reality: According to a report from CNN, more than 2,000 students, teachers, and staff members across five states are already in quarantine due to possible COVID exposure. At least 230 confirmed cases were reported.

And it's not even September yet.

While this news is definitely not what we had hoped to hear, it's also not terribly surprising. Yes, there are strategies schools can implement (per the Centers for Disease Control's guidelines) to make in-person learning as safe as possible—but not all schools are doing so. And, the fact of that matter is, as long as people share a physical space, COVID can spread. And it can do so quickly.

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Take Cherokee County School District in Georgia, for example. The district is home to Etowah High School, the scene of a viral photo featuring students congregating closely (no social distancing or mask-wearing to be found). Now, over 1,100 students, teachers, and staff members in schools across the district have been made to quarantine after at least 59 people tested positive for COVID. The school district just reopened on August 3.

Nearby, in Georgia's Gwinnett County, staff members were reportedly made to quarantine before the school year even began. Students, teachers, and staff members in Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Indiana are already quarantining as well.

Studies have revealed that kids are particularly likely to spread the virus. As parents, we know it goes beyond the science of it all: Have you ever tried to convince a kindergartner to keep a face mask on properly or enforce social distancing rules between two second graders? It's a virtually impossible task, especially when we expect one teacher to enforce best practices among a whole class of students.

There's no doubt about it: For teachers, for parents, for school administrators, there is no perfect solution to all this. While reopening schools definitely comes with some scary risks, there are also some pretty obvious drawbacks to not sending kids back to school this year.

Ultimately, it's all about figuring out what works best for your family, taking appropriate precautions, familiarizing yourself with your school's pandemic policies, and running questions or concerns by a trusted expert.

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