The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has threatened the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans. Presently, the United States is experiencing a surge in cases, and President Trump has noted that “things are going to get worse before they get better”. The recent uptick in cases has worried many Americans, but it has also put the United States in a precarious situation when it comes to the future of education.
Initially, school administrators were under the impression that the infection rate for COVID-19 would have substantially subsided by August, allowing in-person classes to resume. However, as previously noted, the incidence of coronavirus is skyrocketing. This has presented administrators and faculty with the challenging task of deciding if and when they should reopen. Schools across the nation have presented a variety of options. In large cities, most schools have decided to move fully online for the time being, but note that when cases begin to decrease, they are welcoming the idea of allowing students to return for in-person classes. Even when this occurs, students in many districts will only be able to return for 2 days of in-person instruction per week. In areas where the coronavirus is not as prevalent, in-person class is available to students though parents can choose to opt their child out of it.
All of this is done out of the desire to promote community health as even though children seldom become critically ill from the virus, they can easily infect more vulnerable populations. However, concern for many parents of young children is raised: how are working parents supposed to monitor their children if schools remain closed?
With many daycare facilities remaining closed, working parents are left with a difficult decision. For the financially well-off, parents can hire a nanny. Though the average cost of a nanny in the US is roughly $30,000 a year. Most Americans cannot afford the expense of hiring a nanny, leaving parents who cannot work remotely with the difficult task of deciding whether one parent should quit their job. Worse yet, for single parent households, the decision to remain at work is even more challenging.
This is not to say that America should rush to open schools, that would surely be a mistake. But it is important to highlight the new challenges that society will face as the coronavirus continues to be a threat. Working parents and essential workers will be forced to make difficult decisions. Children’s remote learning will likely stifle comprehension of material and harm the important social development that occurs during childhood. Nonetheless, its vital to trust the public health experts’ recommendations.