Texas has had 566 confirmed cases of the COVID‑19 virus out of the 33,767 cases in the US alone. These numbers are growing rapidly not only in the US, but worldwide as well. Schools from all around the world have been shutting down and going digital to protect the youth and slow down the spreading. However, the US was slow in calling the virus a national emergency. This caused many school districts, including Round Rock ISD, to delay going digital when there were already confirmed cases in Texas. The school districts in Texas should have closed long before the beginning of Spring Break to stop the spread and infection of the student body.
The school environment would be the perfect place to spread the coronavirus undetected because not enough students practice proper sanitation and could bring it home to family members who will spread it further. Due to this and the misinformation that many new networks share that only the very old or young will be gravely affected by the virus, students with health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer could have been at great risk of infection while the districts kept schools open. Due to HIPAA privacy laws, it is hard to know approximately how many students per school have these health problems. However, according to the American Diabetes Association, about 2,841,723 adults of the Texas population have diabetes, which logically concludes that there must be a good amount of students in all schools to suffer from it as well. There were also possible cases of COVID‑19 being reported in Texas as far back as early February. It is too late to know how many or long students in Texas school districts carried the virus and unintentionally infected their peers with serious health issues. If they had closed schools down sooner as a precaution rather than an emergency, it could have stopped the infection from touching students who can handle it the least.
Round Rock ISD was one of the last districts to delay schools and cancel public events because there were very few cases near the district. The first case of the virus in Round Rock was a man who tested positive on monday, March 9. However, schools kept their doors open the entire week and only encouraged students to stay home that friday. Although there were very few cases, big cities such as Austin and Houston had over 50 cases around the same time and have rapidly increased to over 100 cases today. COVID‑19, much like the flu, is an airborne virus, which means it can spread very quickly to different parts of the state without detection and infect large populations. Without proper test kits that the government cannot provide, there is no way of knowing whether a person is carrying the virus and could possibly spread it by traveling. The district should have closed its doors the moment a case was confirmed to make sure that no one in the school could have been infected by anyone who had received the virus from the first case. Since that monday, about eight more cases have been confirmed in the Round Rock area and many more are being tested currently. However, students who show no symptoms of being infected could still be carrying it from that one week and infect more people outside of school as they relax during the Spring Break.
It is not necessarily the schools’ fault for this late and poor reaction to a worldwide pandemic. The US government had not declared COVID‑19 as a national emergency until friday, March 13, which left many schools scrambling. Many families depend on the schools for food and proper resources for their children to successfully go to college. If they had shut its doors any sooner than the virus becoming a national emergency, the district would have had to deal with a lot of angry parents who would claim they were overreacting. Going digital is also difficult because the district does not have the money to give all students their own chromebook unlike a lot of private schools and colleges. It would leave many students without an education for weeks. However, there were still many cases showing the virus was a threat well before it reached Texas districts. We had proof from places like China and Italy that late responses to the virus leads to a higher chance of infection since the beginning of March. The district had enough time to make food and home education plans for students when they inevitably shut down and taking the chance of keeping their doors open while so many cases were in nearby cities was irresponsible and could have put a lot of lives at risk. The health of students should always be the priority over education and filling the proper amount of school days.
Even after all schools around the world have closed, COVID‑19, or the coronavirus, has spread to the majority of the world and it’s more important than ever to follow the World Health Organization’s instructions to slow the virus. While we are in a quarantine, wash your hands frequently and practice social distancing until a certified health organization says otherwise. If you feel ill in any way, go to a doctor immediately and avoid friends and family just in case it is the virus. It is also important to follow news for any updates, but avoid news networks that are spreading misinformation such as FOX and CNN. Good news sites to follow the virus are AP news and the New York Times. The coronavirus can be a short part of our lives if everyone stays indoors and practices good hygiene on a regular basis.