As COVID-19 has impacted the typical school environment, would extending the school year benefit the students’ education?
The past year has forced students to spend their year learning online, from home. While this has given schools the opportunity to continue providing education in the most successful way possible, many schools across the country have not been able to support the same rigorous schedule from the past, resulting in less time for students. One solution to this problem would be extending the school year.
While the idea of an extension is still being discussed, the heat of August and June poses a threat to the in-person environment in schools across the district. Some Denver Public Schools board members have already shared their opinions on altering the school year calendar. Tay Anderson took to Twitter to share his thoughts, where he wrote how he has “decided to vote ‘NO’ on any proposed school calendar that begins before August 30th. Many schools lack the proper ventilation and are without air conditioning. Our students and educators deserve better than heat induced classrooms!” DPS has created different rules for classrooms to be successfully ventilated, whether there is air conditioning or if there are only windows. Schools that only have windows are only allowed to open windows when the air drawn in will not increase the temperature of the classroom. If there is not a possibility of providing AC systems, students will be sitting in a closed-off classroom and will have a potentially higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
Although it is hard to predict what the state of the country will be in regards to the pandemic over the next few months, the vaccine has provided hope for staff and some students. With the majority of the staff receiving their second doses already, some high school students are now eligible for vaccinations due to health conditions or being frontline workers. While as of now this only applies to high schools, this could get rid of the high risk of not having ventilation, as some students may be vaccinated in the fall. This still does not create the best solution for lack of HVAC systems because this will only benefit mostly high school students and not elementary and middle schools across Denver.
Parents across the district have shared their concerns about their kids. Many parents have acknowledged that their children have been struggling in their new learning environment, especially students in elementary school. With the vaccine becoming more available to the general public, adults who chose to take the vaccine may be requested to begin working from their office again. This returns the problem of having to find daycares or babysitters to watch their kids while they are not home. Having a lengthened school year could create financial stress for these families, and it is likely that due to COVID-19, schools will not be offering after school care or enrichments for families who are unable to pick up their children after school.
If the school year would be pushed back, this would likely increase problems involving the dress code due to the heat of the classrooms. It is likely that COVID-19 would still be a prominent issue in classrooms. Junior Tyler Hrin vocalized how he believed students would be “very uncomfortable to be sitting in hot rooms all day where [they] are already wearing masks.” While students would benefit from having two more weeks of school, concerns about students’ health and comfort show that this issue does not have an easy solution. DPS has yet to come to a definite decision on this matter, but is likely to release their answer before the end of this school year to put into effect during the 2021-2022 school year.