Syracuse, NY- Tiffany Gratien, a kindergarten teacher and mother of three, is among the growing number of parents wanting their children to attend school five days a week. She and her supporters claim that it’s near impossible for parents to have onsite jobs and be able to take care of their elementary-school-aged children. She said in an interview with Syracuse.com, “A lot of people I know are quitting their jobs to be home with their kids. How is that possible, I can’t do that and I don’t want to.”
Conducting in-person, five-day school weeks are extremely irresponsible, disingenuous, and dangerous to Jamesville-DeWitt staff and students. A school in Corinth, Mississippi, opened its doors five days a week with a mask mandate and social distancing, similar to what parents in the Syracuse area are suggesting. In the first two weeks they were open, 130 students had to be quarantined. Although these were suspected to have been spread at sports practices, having kids intermixing every day proved to be a recipe for disaster in contact tracing and contact in general.
Jamesville-DeWitt’s current plan falls under what the CDC claims is “Medium risk”. This means social distancing of 6 feet between desks and tables, minimal sharing of class materials, staggered schedules for core classes, and mandatory mask-wearing. With all of these protocols met, there have only been eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 active in J-DHS, and only 14 cases in the district as a whole. This has obviously proved to be effective, and five-day school weeks continuously prove themselves to be dangerous.
In an interview with David Epstein, an expert in children’s health and a Pediatric ICU doctor, Epstein claims that schools must open however they can if, and only if, all CDC guidelines are followed. He says that all places will have different plans, and it’s up to the school district and the community to decide what’s best. Jamesville-DeWitt is able to follow the social distancing requirements by implementing a hybrid schedule, which would not be possible with a 5 day school week.
Jamesville-DeWitt’s current hybrid schedule and overall plan is proving to be a success. There is no reason to fix something that isn’t broken, especially when it comes to a global pandemic.