Opinion | Don’t send students back to school

The government’s insistence on sending students back to school not only endangers students, but directly contradicts earlier decisions made in quarantine.


Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. Gov. Kim Reynolds discussed initiatives such as tax cuts, mental health funding, and workforce training.

Yujun Cai, Opinions Columnist

The conflict between the Iowa government and school districts is ramping up once more, with the government ordering school districts to reopen in person despite many districts’ desire to maintain online learning. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds should respect the wishes of districts and give them the autonomy to decide what is right for them.

First though, it’s important to note that the government does have some good reasoning to reopen schools. Some students may have no access to certain technological equipment, which is necessary for the completion of homework. If the schools could get reopened, then these students could gain equal opportunities in the learning environment.

There’s also the issue that remote learning isn’t an ideal environment to be learning in either. Students may experience anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the inability to catch up on the courses and getting used to the pattern of studying. With a lack of social interaction and the stress coming from classes students may be more likely to undergo mental stress learning at home.

However, back in August, there was a policy where the government declared a closing down of non-essential business stores to prevent further spreading of the coronavirus.

But right now, they are enforcing a policy that requires students to come back to school in a public space where people will be more likely to get in contact with each other.

Des Moines Public Schools reported it has to gather more than 33,000 students and 5,000 staff in schools. This will not only cause a larger spread of COVID-19 inside the building, but to the families of its students.

School buildings are already crowded during passing times — even with a reduced student body, there would be people in constant close quarters.

Even though the state government anticipates the shutdown of schools may bring inconvenience to students, they still ignore the more pressing health interest of students.

Reynolds claimed that students must return to school on Sept. 10, despite the fact of possible infection. Besides, she required that schools could not transfer to online class at home unless the rate of positivity reached 15 percent.

That’s absurd. Aside from their claim of ignoring the undetected possible danger of asymptomatic children, the government ignores that the infected children could also play as the source of infection to their family members and neighbors; that may bring further scope of infection around Iowa.

This cutoff at 15 percent is also an absurd and arbitrary point. If 15 percent of students start to test positive, there’s no telling how many people were exposed to the virus because of these students going to school.

There is no reason why Reynolds should shut down public businesses that people have the option of going to, but then force students to return to in-person learning. If the governor is concerned with maintaining the health of her constituency, then she needs to allow districts to decide whether they will remain online. If she is concerned with the economy and people’s individual rights, then she needs to allow businesses to open up.

We cannot have our COVID-cake and eat it too.

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.