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Why Younger Children Are Returning to School First | Peter Hong

After the summer of 2020, fear for lack of safety and growing uncertainty concerned parents across the globe regarding how schools would operate during a global pandemic. A general conclusion, however, has been made by a number of school districts nationwide: in-person teaching with younger children must begin before in-person teaching with older individuals due to developmental concerns and safety. This consensus was exemplified this past Sunday when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio publicly announced that only pre-Ks, elementary schools, and a handful of schools for children with disabilities would begin to reopen in a matter of days. There is no plan currently in place to bring back middle or high school students into an in-person teaching environment. This decision was made in a rather quick manner, as the mayor once promised the citizens of New York City that he would welcome all of the 1.1 million students back into classrooms this fall.

Although the decision made by Mayor Bill de Blasio may seem unique and abnormal, the decision matches the situation in other cities across the country and the world. In many other cities across the country, schools have remained open for younger students in spite of a second wave of coronavirus cases. Many experts believe that in-person learning is critical to the development of young people who need to constantly interact with others around the same age to develop a sense of maturity. On top of that, many younger school students are finding it extremely difficult to merely log in to their computer every day for their online classes. Also, there is growing evidence that supports the notion that elementary schools are highly unlikely to spark any transmission of the virus (given that the schools operate in a safe manner following the recommended safety guidelines). Several other studies have suggested that children under the age of 10 years old transmit the virus exponentially less efficiently than older children or adults. All things considered, it is clear that younger students who are still developing need in-person classes the most, and only time will tell as to how fast all students will be returning to their traditional in-person classes.

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