Reopening Schools amid the Continuing Pandemic: Education workers and communities alarmed over the potential for a worsening public health crisis

Tampa demonstration against school reopening amid COVID-19 pandemic

Tampa demonstration against school reopening amid COVID-19 pandemic. | Photo: Scott Keeler, Tampa Bay Times

By Abayomi Azikiwe

There is tremendous pressure emanating from the United States ruling class and the White House to resume in-person schooling in all levels of educational instruction.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been deployed to answer questions from television news anchors on what teachers’ unions, communities and public health officials are describing as a potentially dangerous situation for students and workers.

Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., the Trump administration has sought to downplay and even ignore the mounting infections and deaths. In specific reference to the education sector, the president and his cabinet are constantly encouraging a resumption of normal activity.

Yet leading public health experts including some members of the White House Task Force on COVID-19, are constantly reminding people to engage in social distancing, the wearing of masks and to limit unnecessary gatherings and travel. These physicians and research scientists are also saying that the situation will become even more critical with the onset of the annual influenza season when healthcare workers and medical facilities could be overwhelmed in addressing both outbreaks.

During the closing days of July, the U.S. still remained the leading country in the world in regard to COVID-19 infections and deaths. A daily report issued on July 21, indicated that there were 3.8 million people who have contracted the virus leaving 143,000 dead.

In several southern California cities the authorities are already announcing that schools for K-12 students will not reopen. In San Diego and Los Angeles, where the pandemic is raging, school board members are saying the schoolhouses are to remain closed.

These same issues impacting school districts across the U.S. illustrate the need for a national policy on safety related to the workplace and schools. White House spokespersons and officials are consistently reiterating that the administration is deferring to local authorities to resolve these problems.

However, many of these same local authorities in various states hold similar views to the Trump administration. Supporters of the president have staged demonstrations demanding the rescinding of the emergency measures imposed by state and municipal governments.

There are those who proclaim publicly the absurd belief that the pandemic is not real. These elements often refuse to wear masks and social distance. Every week there are widely publicized incidents involving individuals becoming extremely irate and violent in response to requests to wear masks while inside an enclosed space.

Others are motivated to resume in-person instruction due to financial considerations. Since the eruption of the pandemic in the U.S., more than 40 million people have been thrown out of work and consequently, tax revenues utilized to fund public education, are drastically diminishing.

School administrators are panicking in an effort to preserve the existing revenue needed to maintain teachers, counselors, social workers, nurses, clerical staff, food service employees and custodians. Efforts underway in Congress to provide another stimulus package, the “Heroes Act”, part of which would be allocated to school districts, remain stalled in the Senate.

Struggle Emerges over Reopening ….

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