Deana Walker 1

Prioritize Safety for Students in Hampton City Schools

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I hope this finds you well as it consists of concerns for the well being of the students and teachers of Hampton City Schools. The schools are being reopened which is extremely concerning specifically because new Covid-19 cases are at high numbers. The schools should not be reopened.

I understand the want to go back to school. More than anything, it would make me happy to see my friends again and achieve a sense of normalcy. Many students would agree with that. But that’s the student’s place, to care more about being with their friends than their safety. Recently, especially within this generation, students have had to take on the burden of fearing for their lives and safely within a building that they should feel the safest. We shouldn’t have to fear the outcome of a bullet or a virus while learning and growing. That’s the obligation of Hampton's school board .

It fears me that this obligation isn’t being upheld. Not enough people have been vaccinated in order for herd immunity to activate. The only way to decrease the cases until enough Virginians can be vaccinated is to stay inside, wear multiple masks, and stay more than six feet away from strangers. This can not occur within the environment of a school filled with students.

There is so much that needs to be done in order to keep students safe even with herd immunity and vaccines in play. For example, each classroom needs a school year's supply of hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes/spray, tissue, and reusable masks. The bathrooms need to be cleaned every hour as well as every door knob, handle, and desk. Everyone would have to wear a mask and keep it on all day. These examples would be virtually impossible in the environment of a school.

Not only is the environment for in school learning at risk, so is the at-home learning environment. Students who have chosen to stay home will suffer from the prompt schedule change. With the notice of less than a week, students, parents, and faculty were not given the proper time to prepare mentally and physically. Families should not be affected by others’ choices to go back to in-person learning.

This worries me and is the main reason schools should not be reopened. If the school board can not guarantee the safety of every student and faculty, they should reconsider. If the school board can’t look in the face of every parent and promise their children will come home healthy everyday, they should reconsider. This is the burden they bear and I don’t trust them to make the best decision in regards to the well-being of the student body. With the help of the students, parents, and faculty, that can change.

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