Should Schools Close Because of the Coronavirus?


Ian Dahl, Contributor

As cases of coronavirus spread across the United States, school and health officials across the country are considering whether to prepare for a worst-case scenario should the coronavirus spread further. Some schools across the country have already shut down as a precaution or debating to use online teaching if the threat persists while others believe that simple health advice is enough. Is washing your hands enough or do schools need to take more drastic measures?

There are already many coronavirus cases across the United States and some patients have already died from the disease. On Monday night, six patients in Washington passed away because of the coronavirus and new cases have appeared Illinois, Florida, New York, California, and Rhode Island over the weekend. In the past, there have been a few cases in states like Oregon, Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. According to the CDC, there have been 100 confirmed cases with ten deaths in total throughout America.

The response to the virus from local school and health authorities has varied from state to state based on whether a confirmed case had appeared in the locality around the school. However, the uncertainty of how far the virus will spread has but schools in a difficult spot. They need to project a sense of calm to the students but they also need to be cautious for the students’ safety.

Last week, the CDC announced guidelines to help schools and daycares protect their students depending on the locality of confirmed cases of coronavirus. For school and care institutions without a confirmed case of coronavirus are advised review and update their plans for emergency if needed while emphasizing the need for hand-washing. If the school or care institution located near a confirmed case, the CDC advises them to communicate with their respective health authorities before they begin to cancel classes. Schools that have decided to shut down to protect their students often have online classes in place of normal classes to prevent students from falling behind.

If there are no nearby coronavirus cases to a school, emphasizing hygiene and reviewing emergency plans should be sufficient but if there are confirmed cases local to a school, more drastic measures should be taken. Temporarily replacing normal classes in school with online classes and shutting the down school should be the plan for schools near confirmed cases to prevent the virus from spreading. While online education may not be what the students are used to, protecting the students health and safety should be the schools top concern currently.