Column: We’re Back! Should We Be?


Mitch Van Cleave, Editor in Chief

Let’s be honest: even if it’s only a small part of us, we’ve all been dying for school to start again. Even those that enjoy staying inside and doing nothing (I am a prime example) are beginning to realize that social interaction is key to our mental health. I wasn’t exactly counting the days until August 25th, but once we reached it, I was glad to actually have something to do other than binge-watch another Netflix show. It’s been a tremendously long Spring break, and I’m ready to listen to history lectures, use the quadratic formula, and laugh at Foster’s ridiculous jokes.

There’s one big issue, though. That virus that sent us home last March? It’s still here.

As much as we would all like COVID-19 to go away, that’s not going to happen in the near future. There are rumors that a vaccine might be available by the end of the year, but there aren’t any promises. If we’re going to have school, it has to be mid-pandemic.

Can we safely have in-person school while the coronavirus is still around? That question has bounced back and forth, and is still being debated. Personally, my first thought goes against it. Bunching 400 kids together into one building doesn’t seem like the safest idea. Health officials have stated that this virus can spread when you’re within six feet of someone for 15 minutes, mask or no-mask.

I’m not going to throw a ton of COVID-19 statistics at you. You’ve heard them all already. And if we’re being completely honest, you’ve already made up your mind about these facts and how they affect our safety.

The thing is, our safety isn’t only affected by COVID-19. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement that supported in-person school, stating that it was essential to youth development. Although there aren’t clear numbers, health officials agree that suicide rates are increasing. You simply can’t keep kids locked in their rooms for a year. It’s unhealthy.

Now, the AAP’s statement also confirms that we need to be as safe as possible with our back-to-school plans. For the most part, Fair Grove has done a pretty good job of this. Everyone is wearing masks, staying socially distanced, and even spreading out to eat lunch. In my opinion, we’re accomplishing our educational goals as safely as possible.

However, one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish safely is athletics. You can’t exactly wear a mask while you’re running around and playing a sport. Due to this, the school standards state that you don’t have to wear a mask during “strenuous physical activity.” 

Think about that, though. During physical activity is when you’re going to be excreting the largest amount of droplets. You’re going to be spitting COVID all over your teammates.

I understand that athletics are important. For a lot of kids, that’s the only reason they attend school. Though, it just doesn’t seem safe in our current atmosphere, especially once you factor in traveling to other schools for games. I play soccer, and I would love to have a complete season, but I would rather have school without soccer than try to have both and end up with everything cancelled.

Academics should be priority number one, and I really do believe that we can accomplish in-person education with minimal harm done. Athletics however, are a more challenging undertaking with a much higher risk.

Honestly, I’m just trying to deliver the facts with a flavor of my own opinion thrown in. Nobody has to (or should) trust me completely. I’m only 18. I don’t know everything. Should we be back? I think so, but that doesn’t mean that you have to.