Regardless of how you feel about schools reopening this fall, a majority of parents and teachers believe it will happen. According to a USA TODAY/Ipsos poll, 63 percent of parents and 65 percent of teachers call school reopenings somewhat likely or very likely.
But will there be enough teachers to educate them in person? The USA TODAY poll found that nearly 1 in 5 teachers say they aren’t likely to return to teaching. Among teachers 55 and older, that number likely to retire is even higher.
And the poll found that roughly 60 percent of parents will likely pursue some form of at-home learning for their children rather than sending them back into the classrooms.
Part of the push to get kids back into schools is economic. By keeping parents at home with their kids doing school online, they struggle in their jobs.
Last week, the Southern California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, with about 1,500 doctors, issued a statement arguing the risk of COVID-19 transmission among children is lower than for adults, and that keeping children away from in-person instruction will have negative consequences.
Keeping kids studying from home could further harm schoolchildren who have already lost ground because of the pandemic. According to research from Brown University, COVID-19 could cause the average student to start next school year having lost a third of his or her expected yearly progress in reading and half of their yearly progress in math.
With the stakes so high, we will need to follow data from other countries and their success reopening schools. Last week, health officials in Denmark and Finland stated they saw no increase in cases after their schools reopened.
But we will also need to develop plans for testing students, sanitizing classrooms and equipment, keeping kids physically distant, and maintaining online options for children who get sick or parents who would rather keep their children home.