My name is Maya, and I am a senior at Baltimore City College. I will be most impacted by the decisions made about reopening schools, so I want to share how I feel about it.
First, I believe it is foolish to open schools during a pandemic. When you think about schools—and I mean any schools, any grade level, etc.—you think of a lot of people: students, staff, administrators. And then you think about all of those people in the building breaking the boundaries of social distancing. The close social interactions and gatherings, especially in hallways and stairwells where students are going to or leaving their classes, the classrooms where students are sitting socially close to one another. I’ve personally seen people leave restrooms without washing their hands! I even had teachers cough in my face, with no sort of excuses or apologies. Then they proceed to touch the door handles, the railing, books, other students’ lockers, and other students, the germs spreading rapidly. Now imagine reopening schools with a thought of something like that. Cross-contamination is a huge hazard, and just the thought of reopening schools is not the best idea. Unless schools have a whole process to ensure students, staff, administrators, and whoever walks through those bright orange doors are safe.
On the other hand, my second opinion about schools reopening is—and this may sound selfish—if schools are allowed to reopen, so should sports. Schools reopening is already a risk, so why should delaying or canceling sports because of COVID be the way to go? As an athlete, having extracurricular events like basketball games, football games, even clubs like chess or other game clubs are what make me want to go to school. For every student, it’s a different reason. For some, it’s just something we love to do, or it’s a way to make friends, or it’s just something to do after school because sometimes the work can be overwhelming. For me, I sometimes just need something to keep me sane. For me personally, and some students may relate, school can be stressful at times and having these extracurricular activities can be a helpful alternative from the overload of assignments. I know for me, playing sports like basketball and softball keep me in shape and helps me mentally, physically, and emotionally. When I’m on that court or on the field I forget all the stress I’m dealing with from the overload of schoolwork. I think that other student-athletes would benefit from keeping sports in school if they reopen.
Overall, as a student in Baltimore, I can say that schools reopening is not a good idea for many reasons, but if schools are going to reopen it should be like it’s the first day of school. Students walk through those bright orange doors with a smile of gratitude that Baltimore Public Schools took the initiative to make sure that anyone who walks through any school doors knows that they are safe and that they have the opportunity to join extracurricular activities and events. I’m a senior and I know things aren’t going to be like they were for the last three years of my high school but I hope I have the opportunity to make my last mark as a class of 2021 at Baltimore City College and I hope every student feels that way.
Maya Radgman was one of OSI-Baltimore’s YouthWorks Summer Interns.