School shutdown would be unreasonable

Lasirra Hines, Opinions Editor

Cases of COVID-19 are rising once again. As of Jan. 21, a total of 90 cases amongst staff and students between Jan. 18 and Jan. 21 have been reported. As the cases rise, there have been thoughts amongst some on shutting down again.

Though the cases are rising, the Mentor Editorial Board believes that it would be irresponsible to shut the schools down. Instead, the school could do more to prevent illness like encouraging teachers to socially distance their desks where possible, doing more to enforce mask wearing and encouraging double masking or surgical masks, and emphasizing the effectiveness of vaccination.

The COVID-19 pandemic is reaching a point where it is considered endemic, so it isn’t reasonable anymore to shut down social services like school to stop the spread. There have been financial struggles throughout the pandemic, much due to shutting down the schools, which disrupts the parent’s ability to work. Shutting the schools down at this moment would only increase those financial struggles. 

There are also negative effects on the students. Those with Individualized Education Plans have specific needs within the plan that can’t always be met online. Last year’s hybrid mode caused issues for many students, with some struggling throughout the entire year.
While the case numbers are high and continuously increasing, there hasn’t been a serious case reported yet at Manhattan High. Due to this, it would be redundant to close down without any severe cases being recorded.

Teachers were thrown into online in the last quarter of the 2019-2020 school year. They were able to prepare a little bit more for the hybrid learning that would take place the following school year. This year, however, teachers are not prepared for that switch, as lesson plans have been worked around staying in person at school.

The bigger issue here has been, there has been less emphasis on preventing that spread and the regulations have become loose. The school could do more to address the rising case numbers.

As the new Omicron variant makes its way in, it has been recommended to upgrade the masks you wear. The school needs to encourage not only masking better, but upgrading the masks as well. Providing them to the students would be an even better step.

It is understood that teachers don’t have that much time to clean their rooms after each class, but that has funneled into them not cleaning them at all. There needs to be better sanitization of the classrooms and by the students and staff themselves.

Along with cleaning the classrooms, teachers need to reorganize their seating to be conducive for social distancing and preventing close contact as much as possible in the classroom.

Finally, while it has been considered your choice, it’s time that the administration stops being wishy-washy about vaccinating. The vaccine is proving to help, but it can’t do so as effectively if there are people who refuse to get vaccinated. It’s not a personal choice. Saying that you don’t have to get it only provides a barrier to protecting the health of everyone and reduces the chances of it not becoming a pandemic again. Getting the booster if you can should also be heavily emphasized.

The cases are rising, but shutting down the school is not the best option due to a number of factors ranging from financial to educational. The school needs to prioritize better masking, getting vaccinated, and maintaining social distancing and cleanliness in the building.