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After over eight months of quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it finally seems like a vaccine for this deadly illness is almost ready for public consumption. With the prospect of things returning back to normal in early 2021, Montgomery County Public Schools are beginning their plan for transitioning back into in-person school.
Starting on Nov. 11, the county sent out a parent survey that allows parents to choose whether or not they want their child in school this spring. The survey will be available to complete until Dec. 3 and parents are asked to provide a variety of information regarding how their children learn and whether they are comfortable with their children going back to in-person school.
People seem to have a variety of opinions regarding this preemptive planning for returning to school. Many worry that as cases rise, it will become increasingly dangerous to return to school. This, along with the bureaucratic red tape that is slowing the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine by the FDA, may be enough to delay a return to in-person school until the fall of 2021.
According to a New York Times article titled “Pfizer Applies for Emergency F.D.A. Approval for Covid-19 Vaccine,” an emergency approval of the 95% effective vaccine would allow limited numbers of people to receive this new vaccine by mid to late December. This sounds good on paper but only a small number of people would be allowed to get the vaccine while the FDA continues its months-long approval process for providing the vaccine to the rest of America.
Having a vaccine available to part of the population would cause issues. With some people being protected from COVID-19, people may feel it is safe to resume their normal lives of in-person activities. This would cause an increase in the spread of COVID-19 due to the people not protected from this new vaccine being reckless.
This recklessness is exactly the reason why schools may need to stay closed for longer than the county is hoping. Students in school are not going to social distance to the extent necessary to stay safe. Since school-aged children are generally safe from severe COVID-19 cases, they would not be a priority for getting vaccinated.
Without the protection from a vaccine, in-person school in MCPS may not be an option until the vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA, and has been distributed to a majority of the Maryland population. Perhaps equally important to the safety of MCPS students is students’ mental health.
It is sometimes overlooked that many students prefer online school to being in-person. There is less social pressure on students to talk with friends when they should be learning and people have more control over when they want to see their friends. This introverted way of thinking is shared by about 35% of the population, which is why it is often ignored.
School, as well as many other aspects of society are tailored for extroverted people, but having forced socializing, especially in school, with the added pressure of trying to learn, can be exhausting. While everyone surely welcomed the two week school closure last March, the ones who really reaped the benefits of this prolonged alone time were introverts.
According to an article by US News and World Report entitled “Examine the Benefits, Drawbacks of Online Learning for Introverts:” “Introversion has to do with the amount of stimulation an individual enjoys and thrives on.”
It is no surprise that introverts are happier without having constant socialization for six hours every day, but extroverts can also benefit from having less time with others. Being alone allows time to think and process information which is helpful when learning new things and retaining new information.
One can only hope that MCPS will take all this into account when deciding the next step towards in-person school and while there are numerous drawbacks to returning to in-person school, it is important to remember that there are two sides to every story and many students have been anxiously waiting for months to finally go back to school.