Be prepared

Despite vaccinations, there is still a risk of COVID-19 spread. [email protected] is crucial in making education available until COVID-19 is truly defeated.

Vaccines have been highly effective, but care should still be taken. | Graphic by Nina Aagaard ’22

While we have over the past year seen several changes to the school schedule, one of the most notable changes has been the addition of [email protected], which provides students with the option of being able to participate in school from home. Even if all students at school are able to get vaccinated by the fall of 2021, the school should still keep the [email protected] option. If a fully vaccinated student gets COVID-19, the school needs to be able to give the student the option to do school from home since quarantine is recommended to last two weeks. Getting yourself caught up after two weeks of missing school is not a simple task. In addition, chances are that not everyone in the school will get vaccinated by the fall of 2021, whether it is due to religious reasons, a fear factor, or because people under sixteen might not be able to get vaccinated by the fall. Furthermore, even with the vaccine available, new variants of COVID-19 can come into existence that might be resistant to the now-available vaccine. The school must keep the [email protected] option for the safety of both students and teachers.

Even if you get fully vaccinated, you still run the risk of contracting COVID-19 that you then might be able to spread (as the majority of COVID-19 cases that involve fully vaccinated people tend to go undiagnosed because these cases are typically asymptomatic). Therefore, the school needs to do two tasks. Firstly, they must continue testing students and teachers for COVID-19, which, according to vice principal Tyrone Ross, the district is already planning on continuing. Secondly, the school district should provide an at-home option for students who either do not feel safe going into the building, do not get vaccinated, or who get tested positive for COVID-19. If the school does not provide the option of [email protected] this fall, there could be a major outbreak of COVID-19 that would go temporarily unseen. Students who test positive, cannot or do not want to get vaccinated, or are scared to go into school need to feel safe while learning. Otherwise their anxiety about being in the building could act as a distraction and impede their academic pursuits. 

In addition, the possibility that not everyone will be vaccinated by the fall could become a factor for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak and thus should be taken into consideration by the district. Especially if students under 16 cannot get vaccinated by the fall, we could see potential infections among the freshman and sophomore class. This potential outbreak could then spread to everyone despite who did and did not get vaccinated, and possibly even outside of LM because students can go home and unintentionally spread the virus to their communities. This could cause Lower Merion Township to see a resurgence in COVID-19, an outcome the school district has a duty to prevent. While efforts on both a communal and national level have certainly made a difference in bringing the pandemic closer to an end, now is most definitely not a time to underestimate the deadliness and potency of this pandemic to return.

In addition to averting the unnecessary dangers of further transmission if students are not vaccinated, [email protected] also serves as a viable working model to turn students’ homes into miniature learning environments. Whereas in a normal school year, a student who is absent from school would miss all the lessons and classes of the day, the pandemic, for better or worse, has changed that and made online schooling not only possible, but relatively effective compared to past attempts. This has the benefit of providing a safety net for students who may be absent from school on a given day, allowing them to still attend classes online and not miss any of the content during those classes, as well as provisioning another educational venue for students to thrive in during ever-changing times.

As seen, it is crucial that the school keeps the option of [email protected] The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet, and it could possibly last for longer than we expect. If the school gets rid of [email protected], there is a greater possibility that the duration of the pandemic will increase. Whether that would cause a little backlash or a dramatic change, families, and individuals would likely be hit even harder by the pandemic than previously. The school needs to be prepared for any possible scenario in order to keep everyone safe. No one wants to be forced to walk through the front doors of the school building wondering if they will unknowingly bring the virus home to their family or give the virus to one or more of their teachers.