School is back in session, with fewer remote options and fewer safety precautions than last fall, despite the fact that the delta variant is more contagious and more likely to infect children. In Mississippi, nearly 19,000 children have already caught Covid-19, and a recent CDC simulation found that 91 percent of all children under 12 could become infected with Covid-19 within three months in areas without universal masking and testing.
In New York City, school has been back in session for only three days — too early to know the rate of in-school spread — but with overcrowded, poorly ventilated classrooms, unmasked lunches in packed cafeterias, and an inadequate testing program, positive cases are expected to jump quickly.
All around the United States, students and education workers are the sacrificial lambs of reopening. One teacher has described it as “the science experiment we are waging on children.” CNN just reported that 1 in every 500 U.S. residents has died of Covid-19, and the country is averaging around 150,000 new cases per day, with the biggest hotspots concentrated in the South. The CDC has issued special guidelines for schools in order to keep them open, claiming that students are not “close contacts” if they are able to maintain at least three feet of distance, even though the guidelines for all other settings is six feet.
Teachers aren’t buying it, and experts have even criticized the six-feet guideline for not taking into account the airborne nature of the virus. A study from MIT suggests that while indoors, distance from others has very little impact, especially when people are in the same room for long periods of time — such as in schools.
Given these circumstances, we are seeking contributions from students and from education workers of all kinds: teachers of any age group, school administrators, and staff members of any role. What plan does your school have in place, and how is it affecting your work? What do people need to know about the conditions that students and employees are facing?
We welcome articles, personal testimony, images, video-diaries, and other forms of contributions. Please email us at [email protected] or reach out on social media. For examples of past worker testimonies, please visit this page.