COVID-19 infection rates in Spokane County are shooting up like a SpaceX rocket.
The United Kingdom, faced with the same autumn spike, flattened their curve by prioritizing schools before business. Dr. Lutz’s recent firing — against the objections of nearly every school district superintendent in Spokane County — illustrates we’re taking a non-ideal approach. COVID-19 is not spreading while students are in our schools. COVID-19 spreads during extracurricular activities and events when participating in extended close contact with others. I would argue the more time students spend in school wearing masks, while separated and monitored by professionals, the safer we all are. This then frees parents/guardians to return to the workplace- resulting in a speedier economic recovery.
For students returning to in-school instruction; spaces might be made effectively safe by prioritizing subjects taught while better utilizing existing school spaces. For example: gyms, libraries, art, band/choir, weight, meeting and faculty rooms can be adapted to safely-spaced learning environments. We can all agree students learn better in school than through isolated online instruction. That said, prioritizing safety during in-school instruction may involve staggered classroom schedules, lunches, and breaks to minimize extended close contact between students.
This is a Band-aid solution, though. It requires more teachers and classified staff on duty to accommodate ideal smaller class sizes. Administrators will be stretched thin, so I encourage our substitutes, para-educators, student teachers, and former educators to step forward for our students. Our schools can be effectively and safely reopened- and each of us will benefit.