We’ve all heard the arguments for opening up the schools next semester. Many who advocate for opening maintain that another year of isolation would engender irreparable emotional damage to children, to say nothing of irredeemably stunting intellectual growth.
Time for a hypothesis: I’m going to ask you to imagine two, say, eight- year-olds living today in the midst of the worsening pandemic. Student One has stayed home for a year waiting for the development of an effective vaccine. Student Two has been returned to the classroom. Clearly, Student Two, for the year. will enjoy better emotional and intellectual health.
Now let’s picture the two students about, say, thirty years from today. And compare them.
Student One looks back to the year of not attending a classroom. Student One is recalling how–along with millions of others– a year passed devoid of direct interaction with teachers and fellow students. Slightly scarred emotionally, Student One reminisces about the exile with a rueful sigh of nostalgia. Intellectually, though playing academic catch-up later, no serious ground has been lost today after three decades..
Student Two recalls that, she did indeed get infected. And as the advocates for opening had predicted, she suffered no symptoms. Trouble is, the classroom’s teacher relinquished her life to Covid-19. Or perhaps it was Student Two’s parents and/or her grandparents who became fatalities of the plague. Now, 30 years later, Student Two wonders if…and is plagued by guilt. It is Student Two who has been traumatized and who is burdened by permanent psychological damage.
Now please consider which of the two students stands a stronger probability of severely enduring emotional devastation.
Sure you want kids back into the classroom at this juncture in history? Or will patience keep families and teachers from becoming patients.