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The Case For & Against Closing of Schools and Colleges Globally Over Coronavirus

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The prompt spread of the COVID -19 in every continent has given rise to growing fears among the civilians and their respective governments. This has made many countries including Italy, Japan, and the United States to close schools, colleges and all other academic institutions, affecting studies of millions of students globally, and disrupting the socio-economic factors state of affairs.

This strict measure is camouflaged under an ideological guise with an underlying assumption that closing school and colleges will help prevent the virus from spreading and other further outbreaks. Knowing quite well that it isn’t the only preventative measure to contain the menacing contagion, governments of different countries have now taken even bigger decisions for locking down.

Closing Down Schools & Precautionary Measures

Let’s take a look at the analysis of an international study for the effect of closing schools. The outbreak of coronavirus in the United States has impelled 850,000 K-12 schools to shut down, affecting millions of students – an International study suggests. On the other hand, all UK schools were closed from 20th March, 2020 as more deaths occurred and 32 more people passed away due to this deadly virus, taking the death toll to 104 last week in England.

However, many countries have chosen not to close schools and other academic institutions. One of the prime examples is Singapore. The country has decided not to close schools citing that it would do more harm than any good. If countries choose to close down the schools and colleges, officials and staff of the school must undertake precautionary measures that include:

• Limiting any interaction among staff and children • Compelling children to wash their hands frequently • All students must be tested for any fever • Reminding students to not touch their faces and to sneeze in their sleeves • Staff can also consider changing the classroom environment by putting each seat six feet apart

On the other hand, knowledge about the impact of COVID -19 is quite inadequate. Many scientists are uncertain about the impact of the virus on children. What is discovered so far is that the COVID -19 relates to influenza, which is quite dangerous for children and the elderly. Since children are particularly vulnerable to it, consequences can be severe – they can either becoming seriously ill or the ailment can prove to be fatal.

H1N1 Influenza VS. COVID 19

There is evidence that suggests that these precautionary measures – the closing of schools and colleges are quite feeble in terms of containment of the virus. Another pandemic is that of H1N1 Influenza and it belongs to the same family as COVID -19. During the epidemic, similar measures were undertaken. However, they didn’t help reduce the extent of the damage but only slowed the pace at which the contagion spread. Put briefly, the slowing of pace was also at a sparse level – the precautionary measures undertaken during the 2002 SARS epidemic, didn’t help alleviate the burden on the over-crowded hospitals.

During the 2009 H1N1 influenza, schools across the United States were closed. An International study revealed that the sentiment of the parents was in support of the precautionary measure. But many other studies revealed that despite the shutting down schools, children were frequently going out and visiting public sites and taking the closing down of academic institutions as vacations. History repeats itself and this suggests that closing schools as a precautionary measure can prove to be counterproductive. But then again, that was influenza and the 2020 pandemic.

Are Children Really Affected by COVID 19 ?

There is strong evidence that suggests that children are not positively affected by it. They might wonder to themselves, can someone do my assignment for me while I take break from school?’ But that cannot happen. Various studies reveal that a limited number of few young adults have been affected by the contagion compared to the elderly. It is largely because of the robust immunity levels in children. This can be a reason to not close the schools as the alarming levels of the prevalence of the disease continue to be curbed. We will discuss below the precarious impacts of closing the schools on socio-economic factors and their effectiveness.

Negative Side of School Closures Globally

Having expounded on the facts that reveal the ineffectiveness of closing schools during plagues and epidemics, it is now mandatory to shed light upon the devastating effects on the socio-economic factors of nations as the schools shutdown. First and foremost, if schools close – simultaneously child care programs will be shattered and parents would have to stay home to take care of their children. Many parents who are health care workers and work in fields related to medicine would lose their jobs. Furthermore, parents who are daily-wagers will also lose their jobs. This would directly result in slowdown of the economy.

Since children will be out of school and their parents will not be working and earning, it can lead to a severe famine and scarcity of food. Communities that provide food and shelter to the homeless, youth and the people in need would be disrupted by the extra burden of the out-of-school students.

After the schools’ closure, it will be difficult to decide when to reopen them. Schools will also need to be maintained and sanitised during the epidemic. Federal and local governments will have to explain proper reasons for the closure of the schools and they would have to take care of the underprivileged communities that are: children whose parents are healthcare workers, daily wagers.

Positive Side of School Closures Globally

Having elucidated on the facts against the closing of colleges and schools, it is now mandatory to shed light upon the positive side of closing schools and colleges over coronavirus. Children are often the carriers of the outbreaks. Since children have higher-levels of interaction with the outside world.

Therefore, theory suggests that closing the schools would reduce this contagion’s transmission. But the argument that was also pondered upon contradicts this theory given the fact that children are almost immune to the coronavirus.

Final Thoughts

Although there is a dire need for curbing public gatherings and avoiding any public site. Specifically thinking, the closure of schools can be used as a well-established tool to curb the proliferating infections that would otherwise spread easily. Having stated the arguments for and against the closing of schools, we are still quite unfamiliar with the full impact of these measures. If the benefits of such measures erode then public outcry can be anticipated as the people lose confidence in their respective governments.

This talk is part of the Edu/Blog series.

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