I Spent 3 Weeks in School, With Kids, Under Covid-19
The private school where I teach followed CDC guidelines to the letter. Let this be a cautionary tale.
I just spent three weeks teaching in a school with kids in the classroom. Back in February, that would have been one of the most unremarkable statements a teacher could possibly make. But within just a couple of months, the idea of students filling classrooms went from being commonplace to almost impossible to believe.
My school conducted a very carefully controlled experiment in the month of May. Under strict Covid-19 guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we reopened our school and held classes on campus with live, in-person instruction. We believe we were the only school in our state in the Intermountain West to do so, and one of only a handful of schools in the country.
Depending on where you land on this whole Covid-19 mess — whether you think it’s seriously overblown, or that it’s far more serious than we’ve acknowledged — you likely have preconceived notions of what back-to-school season may look like. I know because I did. Almost nothing I expected turned out to be true.
I teach history at a private school, which means our staff has complete control over what we do in the classroom. We control exactly whom we allow onto campus. We are not bound by the procedural regulations that govern public schools, or even charter schools. Therefore before we reopened classrooms in May, we were able to select precisely which students and teachers would participate in the experiment. We had both high school and middle school populations, so we crafted the rules with that in mind. Here are the associated parameters as they were proposed to our students and parents before the experiment began:
- Every student would be thoroughly vetted for risk factors. None of them would have any health difficulties of any kind. None of their families would have anyone in the home in a high-risk population. None of their close circle would be infected or have any symptoms of any other disease. Their risk of forward transmission to susceptible populations would be as close to zero as we could possibly make it.
- The students would wear masks at…