Back-to-School season: the one time of year that everyone both loves and hates. Our annual routine consists of shopping for a fresh set of school supplies and clothes and dreading the early morning alarms that school will bring. This year, however, the Back-to-School phenomenon is looking a bit different.
With the chapter of online school coming to an end, nearly every school is returning back to what they used to call "normal." Nearly every school is ditching the Zoom and online school and replacing those unprecedented experiences with our pre-lockdown school form, only with masks this time. Nonetheless, many people are questioning the decision to fully reopen the schools for a multitude of reasons.
The first reason being the new DELTA variant. The DELTA variant makes its way into people’s lives more progressively each day, and it’s no secret that health officials are encouraging people to get the vaccine to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the symptoms that may arise. Kids, especially ages 5 to 11, interact with each other and share communal resources every day. With there being fewer precautions in place (more openings, fewer mask mandates, and fewer lockdowns), getting vaccinated is more important than ever.
This has been seen with the Los Angeles County Unified School District (LAUSD), the country’s second-largest school district, where county officials have mandated that students twelve and older receive COVID-19 vaccines.
In addition, President Biden has stated his desire to allocate funds towards mandating masks, stepping up the COVID testing protocols (performing more screening tests), and increasing vaccination rates among school staff.
Many people argue that what LAUSD and President Biden are doing infringes upon their Constitutional rights. Others claim that the potential side effects of the vaccine are simply not worth the risk. However, it is evident that getting the vaccine is the right step in easing any problems that may arise with the fluctuation of school reopenings.
The Center of Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that vaccinations are what schools need to reduce the spread of the virus, gain herd immunity, and keep everyone safe, amongst other things. Additionally, since schools are reopening right as the spread of the DELTA variant is increasing, vaccines will only help ease the arising problems of an increase in cases, a problem many might have with having to return to school under these circumstances.
So, should people have to go against their beliefs to get a vaccine just to go to school and receive their mandatory education? Should staff risk their lives or go against their beliefs and get the vaccine just to have a job during these hard-enough times? Can schools really choose what is best for people?
Under these circumstances, it is best to listen to what is recommended by the country’s health officials to minimize the health risks. The benefit outweighs the risk here. Because the risks of the vaccine aren’t nearly as bad as the risks of the virus, and the value of education can only be achieved if everyone is actively participating in learning, requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for those eligible will only ease arising problems.