WATCH: The Raging Debate Over Why We Should (and Shouldn’t) Reopen America’s Classrooms This Fall

July 16, 2020

Why do most families and teachers still not know what the #ReturnToSchool will be like in their district? It’s a question born of a thousand moving parts, millions of parents and students and about as many political differences.

It all began in earnest when President Trump tweeted, “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN!!!” last week. From there the anxious debate began, with students and families hanging in the balance.

“We are being asked to do the impossible,” said Susan Enfield, superintendent of the Highline Public Schools, a 19,600-student district south of Seattle. “I have an enormous square peg that I’m trying to squeeze into a microscopic round hole. There are no great scenarios here.”

Keep students at home, and parents will struggle to do their jobs, reports of uneven access to quality distance learning will continue, and students will miss out on critical services. But bring them all back at once, and the lives of grandparents, school staff members with underlying health issues, and others with compromised immune systems hang in the balance. And although some districts and states began crafting and revising return-to-school plans while they were still finishing up the school year, many are still in flux.

The 74 explains the play-by-play as it stands now in this handy, short video.

—Edited by James Fields 


‘We Are Being Asked to Do the Impossible’: As Pandemic Spikes in Several States, Parents Brace for Historically Chaotic Return to School