The only way to beat COVID is to return to school

Vaccination is our best hope for reducing risk of transmitting COVID.

San Bernardino County Sun

Vaccination is our best hope for reducing risk of transmitting COVID.

Yesenia Vargas, Pepper Bough Staff

COVID-19 related deaths are on the rise. The Delta variant has become a major concern for scientists and the CDC. Even as we see a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, this next strain threatens to make it collapse atop us.

We must fight the temptation to return into hiding. Now more than ever.

When COVID-19 swept the nation, the quarantine locks snapped into place. Businesses were locked up, schools shut down, and the world seized by panic and despair. Millions lost their jobs, and had it not been for timely government support, millions more would have lost their homes and rentals. Here in Colton, the deaths of family and friends devastated us. Between the three communities comprising our district—Colton, Bloomington, and Grand Terrace—306 people lost their lives to the virus.

Now that vaccines are widely available, and California has cut the quarantine Master locks, we have an opportunity to re-evaluate the business of living. We should reconsider how we handle being in public places, our interactions with strangers, and the impact of our decisions on others. Through re-evaluation, we can move forward and make our community safer and healthier.

It would be easy to look at these reports of the Delta variant and immediately act like turtles and head back for our shells. That would be a mistake. We can’t let the darkness win. We can’t allow our despair to take control of our lives.

Colton schools are reopening on August 4. We will be required to wear masks. We have to make sure that we follow the district guidelines because we need each other now more than ever.

The only alternative is to return home and conduct school on computers again. We know what this did to our friends. Many disengaged, turning off their cameras and refusing to participate. Grades plummeted. Even AP students with a history of straight As found themselves accepting lesser grades because of the alienation of distance learning. Our teachers struggled, too, often feeling like they were talking to empty voids as they tried to get through essential curriculum.

Distance Learning is not a real alternative. There has been talk about a hybrid schedule that would involve days at home and days at school. It is confusing and unclear how it would work for parents who need the consistency of a school schedule to get their families moving in the morning. And it is equally unclear how it would be an improvement over the dreaded distance learning model.

So, we must return to school. However, we must take responsibility for ourselves and each other. When we see someone without a mask, remind them to put theirs on. If someone reveals they are not vaccinated, recommend they get one. The only way for this pandemic to finally end is for us to stand together and do what is in all our best interests.

We can’t go back into hiding. Like superheroes, we need to put our masks on and fight.