The United States is preparing a back-to-school very virtual

Les États-Unis se préparent à une rentrée scolaire très virtuelle

New York, Los Angeles, Houston… major us cities have decided that the school year would be largely, if not totally online, opting for the precautionary principle. But in States like Florida, which still has deplored Thursday the heavy balance sheets, the debate turns to the arm of iron policy.

The school is a responsibility that is very decentralized in the United States, and the decisions will be made by school district (with more than 13 000), but the governors of the States also intervene, creating a patchwork of situations, sometimes in neighboring towns, at the risk of accentuating inequalities. Not to mention that Donald Trump is pushing for a re-opening total.

“The science should not be an obstacle,” said the spokesman of the president on Thursday, adding a few seconds later: “science is on our side “. And she regretted that the United States is the exception in the western world on this issue.

Notwithstanding the chairman, a hybrid between face-to-face and virtual, is the compromise chosen by more and more jurisdictions. Even in case of reopening, many will not require students to be present.

New York is said to be ready to reopen in September with three days in class per week.

But the schools of Houston, 200 000 students, and of Los Angeles, 600 000 students, will remain completely closed to the comeback, for six weeks, and until further order, respectively. Classes will resume online.

Near Washington, in Fairfax, the parents may opt between a 100% virtual, and two days per week in the classroom — a choice criticized by the secretary of Education of Donald Trump, who has stated that the spring distance learning there had been a ” disaster “.

“It is betrayal of taxpayers that pay a lot of taxes for their education,” said Betsy DeVos.

The case of Florida illustrates the politicization of the debate: the governor Ron DeSantis has published a decree requiring schools to re-open five days per week, but in Miami and in south Florida, officials have said that they would open on not so much that the epidemic would not be under control.

And it is far from being so. The health authorities of the State announced Thursday that they had registered 156 deaths of the COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, a record figure. At the same time, 14,000 new cases have been reported, which makes the great State of the south-east of the country, the new epicenter of american pandemic.

At the national level, the United States have taken on Thursday the milestone of 3.5 million of confirmed cases, according to data from the Johns Hopkins university.

Other cities, such as Chicago and Washington, are pining parents and have not yet announced the format of the new school year. Teacher unions are opposing the return current before a vaccine is available.

Dilemma national

Science does not provide a definitive answer to resolve the dilemma for school leaders:

  • Open may increase the risk of contagion, although the first studies contradict each other on the contagiousness of actual children;
  • Remain closed would probably result in the risk of contamination but would increase the indisputably early school leaving and inequalities between the children of affluent families and those who do not have the material, the place or the parental help to work properly at home.

Only 5% of identified cases of COVID-19 are children, and 90% of them have few or no symptoms. 1 to 5% of the children infected have symptoms that are severe or critical, but studies indicate that the majority had risk factors or were infants.

The u.s. Academies of sciences have weighed the risks and benefits and concluded that the reopening was better at least for younger children and children with disabilities.

“Districts must give priority to the re-opening with the focus on teaching full-time, in-person classes K-5 (5-10 years old) and for students with special needs “, concludes a panel of experts in a report published Wednesday.

It is also necessary that schools have the means to put in place the alienation of students, and improve the ventilation to renew the air.

In the United States, schools are funded by local taxes, and those in poor districts are less well equipped than those of the suburban rich. The democrats have claimed to Donald Trump additional credits.

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