Consequences of COVID-19


Shelby Fohl, Staffer

     With many schools across Texas beginning to open up for the 2020-2021 school year for kids to return physically, Leander ISD plans to reopen schools as early as Tuesday, September 8, with safety precautions such as wearing masks at all times and socially distanced classrooms. This decision follows Texas Governor Gregg Abbott’s mandate to reopen the state in phases back on May 8, beginning with businesses and ending the state-issued quarantine. 

     Due to Abbott’s decision to open Texas back up, Leander ISD will suffer the consequences of opening up too early. The decision to open up is not safe, as there has been an influx of COVID-19 cases in the state, and there is a possibility of a spread to schools that could endanger the health of students, faculty, and staff. Leaving the decision for school boards to make regarding reopening rather than health officials also puts extra strain on educators.

     According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, since opening back up in May, Texas has reached over 500,000 cases of COVID-19. Although 500,000 total cases have been documented, there are still about 100,000 active cases as of August 25, 2020. If Governor Abbott chose to close schools at 1,000 cases back in March, why is it now deemed safe to send students back with 500 times the amount of cases? The decision did not take into account the detriment to students, as now schools will have to enforce strict sanitary and safety guidelines to those coming back, many of which can be difficult to make all students of both elementary and secondary schools follow. Sending students and staff back to school, near one another, still risks the spread of the virus if students or faculty do not follow guidelines. Risking the possibility of those in-person contracting the virus could also extend the period of a prolonged quarantine, and is willingly risking another spike in cases.

     In addition, Governor Abbott curbing local health authorities from having a say in shutting down schools weeks in advance and leaving the decision to school officials raises concerns. School boards only have so much data and information to make decisions off of, and already have to figure out a system with remote learning that works for all students in the district. Sending students back to school, while still having some who choose to stay remote, can put a lot of strain on the teachers who already have no choice in the matter of going back in person. Governor Abbott’s decisions are leaving a lot of choices and questions for the education system up in the air, which could’ve been easily avoided had he stuck with health authorities cooperating with schools to develop a plan for the coming school year. 

     While some may argue that Governor Abbott couldn’t predict what would happen with the virus and that the Texas government is doing what they can for schools, the virus was nowhere near declining significantly back in May. Governor Abbott chose to reopen during the middle of the pandemic when no signs of a curve in the statistics of cases were apparent. States such as Georgia that had reopened a week before Texas already began seeing a rise in confirmed cases. There were warnings from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) about reopening too quickly, yet Governor Abbott did not heed the warnings from health authorities. This caused a surge of cases, and therefore will be affecting the foreseeable future of how school will commence. 

     Due to Governor Abbott’s mandate and the consequences that followed with the rise in COVID-19 cases starting in May, Leander ISD, along with all Texas schools, are at risk. It is not safe to open up, and the decision may jeopardize the health of students and staff. Leaving the decision and inner workings of opening up for the 2020-2021 school year to school boards with little help from health authorities puts school districts in heightened stress. Instead of reopening, Leander ISD should keep students home for at least the first semester, or until it is deemed safe by the CDC and local health authorities to send students, staff, and faculty back to complete the school year.