Should SouthCoast Schools Close Because of the Coronavirus?
None of us have ever lived through anything quite like this. I said on the air this morning that the past few days have felt very similar to the feel that New England gets when we're gearing up for a blizzard. The only problem is that we have no idea when the Corona Blizzard will strike, how long it will hand around, and how strong it will be.
The lack of precedence makes it very difficult for organizations to make decisions about how to handle the virus. I don't envy anyone who is in the position to have to make a call like this.
That being said, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell has declared a state of emergency during a press conference today that outlined the city's response to COVID-19. Among many other things, the mayor declared that all non-essential public community events greater than 100 people will be postponed or canceled.
In addition, the mayor addressed events that do not require some form of public approval or permit. Mayor Mitchell "strongly discouraged" the holding of nonessential indoor events of greater than 100 people. Moreover, Massachusetts has prohibited gatherings of more than 250 people.
With these new guidelines in mind, how is it OK to send children to school? I am asking with sincerity. If we are not supposed to be gathered in groups of 100 or more for the time being, schools in the city can have thousands of students, not to mention faculty.
Diman Regional Vocational Technical School was closed today to enable the janitorial staff to give it a good, "precautionary cleaning and scrubbing."
Boston Mayor, Marty Walsh was pretty clear about his stance today. “There will be school Monday and there will be school next week,” Walsh said. Pretty cut and dry.
Yet schools across the SouthCoast are already closing down next week. And that's smart.
My feeling is that if you wait until a school is infected with the coronavirus to cancel, it's like closing the barn door after the horse has left the barn.
The state smartly gave school district great liberties to overlook absences and school days. We should be taking advantage of it to try to get past this once-in-a-lifetime crisis.