Dangers of Going Back to School in the Age of COVID: What’s Real, What’s Exaggerated?


Back-to-school traditions look a lot different in an age of COVID. Many districts resumed virtual learning, while others have enacted a hybrid approach. Still, others have opened up under strict precautions sparking outcry among concerned community members. Many of their fears are valid. A few, however, may involve some stretching of the truth, as explained below:

Which Risks Are Exaggerated?

At the outset of the pandemic, parents were relieved to learn that children are not nearly as susceptible to COVID as adults. Kids can become ill, but this is uncommon among healthy children with few pre-existing conditions. Some may exhibit mild symptoms, but many are virtually unaffected by the disease. News stories about sick children may be alarming, but most adults expose their kids to far riskier situations on a regular basis.

Which Concerns Are Valid?

While kids who test COVID-positive tend to exhibit mild symptoms, research suggests that they are major carriers. This can be problematic for those who regularly spend time with at-risk adults, such as grandparents or parents with significant health problems.

While schools promise to limit the spread by requiring students to wear masks and remain socially distanced, this is a prime example of “easier said than done”. Even the best teachers may struggle to discipline unruly students, many of whom are desperate for close interaction after months of social distancing.

In addition to risking the spread to family members, school attendance may compromise teachers or other staff members. This largely depends on how well schools plan for COVID mitigation and whether their efforts are properly funded.

Unfortunately, no approach is perfect. With a basic understanding of current risks, however, it’s possible to make an informed decision that works for your situation.