Editorial: TEA suggests longer year with longer breaks

Editorial%3A+TEA+suggests+longer+year+with+longer+breaks

Maryland Matters.org

Abbie Chaloupka, Writer

Since the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic closed schools in Texas and other states and countries, there are a lot of questions on how students will return for the 2020-21 school year. Medical experts are worried about a second wave of the virus in the fall or winter. Will school go back to normal, or will there be change?

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has suggested that districts consider starting earlier and ending later but with longer breaks. This seems to be a reasonable option.

With frequent breaks and longer breaks, schools would be able to properly sanitize the classrooms and buildings. For example, students could attend schools for six weeks and then close for a week and allow staff to thoroughly clean. The fall semester could be finished before the Christmas break and then school could be closed for a month. This long break could slow down the spread of the coronavirus as well as other common illnesses and improve student attendance overall. Longer and frequent vacations would also give students much needed “brain breaks,” which should only increase students’ academic success.

Of course, the virus could still spread from person to person while students are physically at school. One way to lessen the spread is to have smaller class sizes so students are not all exposed to each other in every class. This would help keep everyone safe but might not be possible given the amount of teachers and classrooms. Melissa High School is nearly maxed out with the space we have in the school and enrollment is expected to increase next year. TEA has also suggested staggering the number of students on campus any given day, which might help solve that problem for crowded schools and classrooms. Half of the students could attend school on certain days and the other half on the other days.

Overall, one thing seems certain: COVID-19 is forcing us to rethink the old ways and get creative to find new ways to educate. TEA’s suggestion for an earlier start date and later end date with longer breaks in between seems to be the best option to prevent the spread of the virus.