By Akil Brathwaite

Staff Writer

Image source: Mississippi Today

Ever since the start of COVID-19, life as we know it has been disrupted. We’ve all had to adjust to new ways of living to keep ourselves and those around us safe, but with the distribution of vaccines, we may be able to return to normal. Or at least, somewhat normal.

As of August 23, 2021, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for those who are 12 years and up, yet there’s been no word from the FDA about vaccines for those younger than 12. In response to this, the Maryland State Department of Education has required masks for both students and staff.

Despite the mask mandate, some parents are concerned about letting their kids, who are unable to get vaccinated, into a school environment alongside their peers and teachers.

The introduction of the Delta variant, a new strain of the COVID-19 virus, has brought out some concern too. Research has found it grows more rapidly and gets people more sick in less time. Some have found that it’s affected unvaccinated citizens more, and experts believe that this is not the last variant to come. To say that some are concerned is an understatement.

Despite this, there are some positives to letting students back into school. They’re able to reconnect with friends and establish solid relationships that they weren’t able to form through the online setting.

When asked how her child has responded to returning to in-person school, Ms. Lerner, a mother of a 6th grade student, said, “He loves it. He is super happy to see his friends and learn–probably more on the ‘see his friends’ side.”

Returning has proven to be beneficial for teachers, too. Instead of seemingly talking to a wall of student icons on Google Meet, they’ve been able to see the faces of students and have better interactions with them. Practices for sports have resumed and teams are meeting regularly again, which can help rebuild team spirit. School clubs have been meeting again, which could help bring back the interaction that was lost during online learning. Things seem to be returning to normal when it comes to education, staff, and students.

Of course, if we wish to slowly return to our normal learning environment, we each have to pitch in. In the words of Ms. Lerner, “I wish that the adults would just stop the fighting. First, our children are listening, and second, I have yet to meet a student who really cares about wearing his/her mask. I mean, don’t get me wrong, nobody loves it, but I think that the adults are whining way more about their kids wearing masks than the kids [themselves]. The kids are adapting just fine.”

If we really wish to return to the school environment we’re accustomed to, we all have to play our part by following mandates and regulations and doing our best to keep ourselves and others around us safe. That’s the only way we can return to normal.