The Reopening of Schools in 2020
by Jim Hopkins, school board member
image missing Due to the coronavirus, the reopening of schools this year will be far from normal.  On July 12, the Orange County School Board voted to delay the first day of school for students until Monday, August 24.  This delay will permit the teachers to have three weeks to plan for the changes needed to reopen the schools.  How the schools will open is a work in progress, but at this time, full-time face-to-face instruction seems to be off the table.

In March, when we first became aware of the coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci and many others told us the data would drive decisions concerning the virus.  But as administrators across the Commonwealth are making plans to reopen our schools, the data-driven approach appears to have been forgotten.

The risk to children from the coronavirus is small.  The death rate for children from the flu is higher than that of the coronavirus.  According to the Virginia Department of Health for children under the age of 19, there have been no deaths in Virginia associated with the coronavirus.

Some are asking, what is the risk to the teachers when schools reopen?  Dr. Mark Woolhouse, a leading epidemiologist and one of the British government’s leading scientific advisers, has said there has been no recorded case of a teacher catching the coronavirus from a student anywhere in the world.  As schools all over Europe are opening with full-time face-to-face instruction, Dr. Woolhouse has said it may have been a mistake to close schools in March, given the limited role children play in spreading the virus.

The data says the coronavirus is a low risk to our students, and the students are a low risk to their teachers. Therefore based on the data, in my opinion, the Orange County Public Schools should reopen by offering students the option of full-time face-to-face instruction or online instruction using Virtual OC.