EDITOR'S COMMENTARY

COVID-19 is the Security Problem

If you’re planning on sending the kids back to school this fall, not so fast. That virus thing is still hanging on. Let’s also hope that security has not taken a back seat to, well … anything. With a First Grader in my home, when I think of Campus Security, my mind flashes to K-12. Higher education has been in the midst of the virus struggle as well. I don’t envy education or health officials who are grappling with this pandemic, and when to allow students back to class.

For the sake of my First Grader, home schooling is not the preferred method. I don’t make a great teacher, tutor or recess playmate.

As of June 18, K-12 campuses have been alerted by Gov. Greg Abbott that schools will open for fall classes. The governor reiterated that it was his goal to have students back in schools by the fall.

“It will be safe for Texas public school students, teachers, and staff to return to school campuses for in-person instruction this fall,” said Mike Morath, Texas Education Commissioner, in a statement released Thursday. “But there will also be flexibility for families with health concerns so that their children can be educated remotely, if the parent so chooses.”

In California, education officials are considering “reconfigured classrooms,” staggered class schedules and a continuation of online learning to permit social distancing.

In the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools District, Eric Gordon, CEO, thinks school can reopen in the fall. Districts could stagger school days or extend hours to reduce class sizes to keep students and teachers six feet apart. He also said districts would have to hire more teachers to avoid reducing instruction time.

But districts would have to hire more teachers to avoid reducing instruction time. “We couldn’t suddenly triple the size of the workforce, and even if we did we did couldn’t triple the size of the building,” he said.

Nebraska’s Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt has a team of 24 superintendents, developing a “safety net” for the fall. Plans are, normal instruction, continued online learning and just about everything in between. This likely would include further disruptions after students return to school if there are coronavirus outbreaks in individual communities.

“I hope we don’t have a lot of disruptions, but signs are that it’s a possibility.”

Higher education has similar aspirations. Colleges opening in the fall include Baylor University, Boston College, New York University, Texas A&M, University of Arizona and several others. Other schools are planning shortened semesters, such as Michigan State University, Notre Dame, University of Texas and others.

No matter the course taken for opening campuses, safety and security are paramount. Trust, that I will be watching the First Grade now, more than ever before.

This article originally appeared in the July August 2020 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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