Opinion | Iowa City School districts should get decide when to reopen

Gov. Reynolds’ decision to force school districts to open up on her timetable unnecessarily endangers the lives of children and their families.


Jake Maish

A sign for the Iowa City Community School District is seen outside the district’s administration building on Tuesday, April 28.

Hannah Pinski, Opinions Columnist

This past week, Iowa State Education Association and Iowa City Community School District’s request for control of school reopenings was denied by Judge Mary Chichelle. Chichelle’s reasoning was that the risks of opening schools did not outweigh the risks if schools were to close.

However, Iowa City schools should have complete control over school reopenings because they know what’s best to keep the community safe instead of the government level who pushes their own agenda.

In late July, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa schools would need to have at least 50 percent of classes in person. However, this decision was not based on students’ wellbeing, but rather Reynolds’ support on Trump’s push to reopen schools.

Every school district is in a different county, and each county knows what’s best for their community. The state government should not interfere with these decisions because they don’t know what’s best for each individual community and therefore won’t know how to make the best decisions.

Currently, Johnson County has a 12.6 percent positive case rate. Although the rate has improved significantly, the risks of opening schools are far worse than if schools closed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lowest risk of transmission is online classes only, while the hybrid model is considered medium risk, and in-person learning falls in the high-risk category.

Without a vaccine or substantial treatment, everyone needs to do their part and make sacrifices to slow the spread and wait for scientists to do their job in order to make progress.

There is no question that quarantine has had effects on students’ mental health. However, to ensure and help children cope with mental health, we must first be sure that they are in an environment where they are physically safe and capable of dealing with these struggles.

Opening up schools too soon can create a spike in cases and risks the physical health of students, teachers, and their families. How can we expect students’ mental health to improve when their physical health could be in jeopardy? Students are not the only ones risking their physical health; they also risk spreading the virus to their families when they return home.

In addition, opening schools is asking teachers to risk their own lives just so students can experience in-person learning.

We have already seen the effects of schools opening too soon. At least six teachers in five states have died from contracting COVID-19 from school reopenings. The lives of our educators is not a risk worth taking if schools were to even go back to a hybrid model which is what the state government wants to do. It’s best for each community to decide what’s best depending on its positivity rate, ability to make accommodations, and if they can take proper precautions to follow CDC guidelines.

If the reopening of schools is left in the state government’s hands, their decisions will be made out of their own self-interest. To protect students, teachers, and slow the spread, the reopening of schools should be left in the hands of individual districts.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.