The Rhode Island Department of Health released new guidelines for in-person schooling. These new guidelines allow vaccinated students and staff who are considered “close contacts,” but without symptoms, to remain in school rather than quarantine at home. Unvaccinated students and staff can continue to attend class in-person as well. Furthermore, for those who test positive for COVID-19, the isolation period is now five days. These new guidelines are a step in the right direction for keeping students in school as we adjust to the realities of living with COVID.
While COVID cases continue to rise in the state, statistically, the new Omicron variant (which makes up the majority of cases) is less deadly than previous strains. Thankfully, hospitalizations and deaths from among students are low. Regardless of statistics, the National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI) teacher’s union wants schools to immediately move to distance learning. This would be a mistake. The statistics paint a bleak picture regarding distance learning and school children: mental-health issues, lost ground academically, and a lack of normal socialization.
It is well past time that we do everything in our power to keep our kids in school. No more distance learning. No more quarantining of entire classrooms. It is time that administrators, teachers, and parents face the challenge of ensuring that our students receive the education they need.