Schools in the Bay Area Hold Fear for the Possibility of Another Virus Outbreak

In September, Novato teacher Liz Duffield felt terrified to come back and teach in her local school’s classroom. She expressed her worries about the possibility of contracting the coronavirus and passing it on to her students and vice versa. 

Until now, Duffield still carries the same fear of getting infected but not within the school grounds. According to the Novato instructor, she feels safer inside her classroom than outside. Duffield even felt more sheltered in her workplace compared to her house.

Marin County’s newest data shows that Duffield’s assumption is right. Health officials have confirmed in their report that contracting the disease at a school is lower compared to getting it within an entire community. With almost 13,000 people attending daily in-person classes within the Bay Area, it is safe to assume that the virus poses a weak threat against school staffers and students.

Since last September’s school reopenings, Marin County has reported only two suspected infections at a school until now.

The latest released information should help school teachers and staff lessen their worries about getting infected. Moreover, the data results may encourage district officials across the state to reopen many schools as soon as possible. 

School Reopenings Remain Under Fire Despite Data Results of Low-Risk Infections

Despite most research studies showing that U.S. schools are not high-risk COVID-19 areas, thousands of campuses remain closed. As of late, most of the Bay Area’s 1.2 million population of school-age children still experience distance learning. 

Duffield stated that her three months’ in-person teaching sessions reflect low chances of obtaining the virus. She also mentioned that she follows health guidelines daily, such as wearing a mask and face shield, reminding students to wash their hands frequently, and ensuring the sanitization of classroom surfaces. Duffield mentioned that teachers’ paranoia over the disease would help keep them and their students from getting infected.

Assemblyman Phil Ting proposed a ruling that permits schools to reopen once state and county officials approve of the request. Ting said that despite the legislation, schools couldn’t decide when or how to reopen their campuses. He claims that fear is a driving factor for many schools’ indecision to allow students to return.

That fear gets fueled by the recent surge of cases in the country, the state, and the Bay Area. In the United States, more than 2,000 people died each day last week due to COVID-19.

Because of the troubling news, the reopening of more schools got cancelled by county health officials until cases drop the following weeks. Meanwhile, those campuses that reopened last September can continue to operate.

Despite the reopenings, several Bay Area teachers are still skeptical of returning to schools. Some of them even plan on organizing protests if the January school reopenings get pushed by the board of education. In many districts, officials didn’t indicate any possibilities of going back.

Distance Learning First, In-Person Instruction Later

Oakland Education Association leader Chaz Garcia announced that both OEA and OUSD have agreed to prioritize distance learning in the meantime. Garcia explained that multiple districts halted school reopenings due to dramatic increases in the county’s coronavirus cases. 

The school reopenings have caused emotional and divisive reactions across the state and the Bay Area. For instance, Oakland’s and Berkeley’s parents organized street protests to rebel against in-person instruction. Many of the concerned citizens argued that allowing their children to return to school could mean sending them off to their deathbeds.

Ting acknowledged the fears felt by many people toward the virus. However, he also affirmed that instead of getting overwhelmed by terror against the pandemic, people should focus on scientific evidence and data.