PICK A SIDE: Should schools reopen for in-person learning?

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Published May 28, 2021 at 3:44 pm

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Earlier this week, Premier Doug Ford asked for expert advice from scientists regarding whether he should reopen schools for the last month of the academic year.

Initially, in a press conference a few weeks ago, he said he was hesitant to do so, and cited data that suggested reopening schools could lead to an 11 per cent increase in COVID-19 cases.

While a decision has yet to be made—Ford said he wants to take the time to thoroughly consider the pros and cons—it will likely come within the next few days.

Some doctors are in favour of reopening schools, as they have cited a rise in mental illness among students as a significant factor.

Additionally, many parents are in favour of reopening schools so they can focus on their job, rather than having to split time between working and monitoring their child’s or children’s education.

However, those opposed to reopening schools have pointed to data that indicates every time schools have reopened there has been a spike in cases—the second wave of the virus started in the fall, almost immediately after schools were reopened.

Those against reopening schools have suggested the bigger picture is keeping them closed so they can reopen properly in the fall, along with businesses that have been shuttered for months, such as gyms and restaurants.

Further, those opposed suggest, since it’s already almost June, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to reopen schools and increase the risk of transmitting the virus for just three weeks’ worth of classes.

Moreover, those opposed have suggested it could further extend Ontario’s province-wide lockdown, which has already been in effect for the last two months.

However, those in favour have pointed to vaccination numbers. Current reports indicate approximately 65 per cent of Ontarians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine—which is beyond the threshold the Province was aiming for before they began reopening certain businesses and amenities.

While this is true, the vast majority of these people are adults—vaccines only became available for children and teenagers very recently, and students, particularly elementary school students, are mostly unvaccinated.

So, readers, what do you think? Should schools reopen before the start of the summer?

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