Leading up to his election as President, Joe Biden said repeatedly his administration would rely heavily on science to cope with the pandemic.
Yet, the new President seems reluctant to reopen schools to fulltime learning despite assurances from the Centers for Disease Control that there is little evidence of coronavirus transmission in schools if the proper precautions are followed.
Fortunately, the Horry County Board of Education has proceeded with its plan to reopen public schools in Horry County.
Elementary students returned to school Monday and middle school and high school students will follow suit as soon as protective plastic shielding can be installed in classrooms.
Few topics split public opinion as much as reopening public schools.
My wife, a retired teacher, believes virtual education must be continued until the virus is more under control.
I think the benefits of reopening schools outweigh the relatively small risk of children getting infected and spreading the disease to family members.
I totally understand the reasons some people do not want to reopen schools. Teachers, in particular, have reason to question the reopening of school. They will be around hundreds of children capable of spreading the COVID-19 virus.
In a very real way they are putting their lives at risk. But, so are millions of other essential workers. Truck drivers, grocery store clerks, waiters and many others risk infection every day.
Teachers have done the best they can to continue instructing children under stressful conditions caused by the pandemic.
Virtual learning and the hybrid model of school attendance has helped put a bandage on the problem of education.
And, some parents have done a good job of keeping their children on task and making sure they keep up with online lessons and assignments.
However, after conversations with people in the educational field, I am convinced there are many other children who have not benefited from virtual learning because their parents have neither the time nor the inclination to keep them focused.
Virtual learning simply cannot substitute for in-person instruction in most instances and that’s why it is vitally important to reopen public schools.
Will returning students and teachers to school be a risk?
Certainly, but so is going to the grocery store, a birthday party or a family gathering.
Perhaps we can learn something from private schools that have been in session since the start of the school year. I am unaware of any large-scale COVID-19 outbreaks in Horry County among private school students.
There has also been a lot of criticism about the plastic enclosures that have been erected in classrooms.
I question the effectiveness of such measures, but don’t see the harm of using them.
I do think public schools can and should be reopened. Just rely on the science, like Biden should.
Steve Robertson, former publisher of the Waccamaw Publishers family of community newspapers, wrote this column. His opinion does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Waccamaw Publishers and its website MyHorryNews. com.