What happened: As schools across the country prepare to reopen amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, one Alabama high school principal is sharing a message about new restrictions and safety protocols — and he’s managed to make it a little less terrifying than the never-ending news cycle.
Dr. Quentin Lee, who leads 300 students at Childersburg High, filmed a coronavirus-themed musical parody of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This,” which sees him lamenting about the Lysol shortage and urging students to wear masks and social distance.
Basically, [I] just really wanted to do something fun for back-to-school to kind of reinforce a lot of the new things we’re having to do. I like making little silly videos for the kids, just to kind of get them excited about school. I wanted to [do] something to help promote the community. — Dr. Lee, USA Today
The Frontlines: According to USA Today, Dr. Lee’s parody took just a little over an hour to shoot and included students as well as the school’s cheerleading coach. As he put it, it was “something fun, but with a serious message” — and the message is, indeed, serious. School reopenings have sparked a major debate across America. While some jokingly likened the social distancing restrictions and PPE requirements to “The Hunger Games,” others have felt the real-life consequences.
According to The New York Times, Georgia’s largest school district had 200 employees barred from work after testing positive, a high school in Indiana had to shift to online learning just two days after opening its doors because of an outbreak, and Mississippi students were thrust into quarantine after classmates tested positive in the first week of classes. The CDC has done their best to mitigate the risk of infections with various recommendations, including:
Staying home when appropriate.
Teaching, reinforcing, and monitoring handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds.
Encouraging staff and students to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues
Enforce staff and students over the age of 2 to wear cloth face coverings when feasible.
Include various, highly visible signage and broadcast announcements about reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Physical distance as much as possible.
A Mighty Voice: As schools reopen in the middle of the pandemic, many teachers have been vocal about their fears. Our contributor, Colleen Wildenhaus, spoke about her experience as a teacher and why she feels like in-person classes should be postponed.
“The lack of consistency in messages of safety for students and teachers is astounding, and stress levels are rising. In Ohio, counties like mine are rated as a level red (‘very high exposure’), with the expectation that residents ‘limit activities as much as possible,’” she wrote. “Masks are required in public while in the ‘red zone.’ Our state has a ‘10-person gathering size limit.’ All of this is being announced to citizens while, at the same time, telling schools that it is safe to open for the fall semester.” You can submit your first-person story, too.
Add your voice:
Other things to know: At the time of this writing, the United States has had more than 4.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with more than 154,000 fatalities. According to the CDC, we’ve been facing a seven-day average of more than 60,000 confirmed cases every single day. If you want to know more about education in the age of COVID-19, check out the following:
How to take action: You can learn more about keeping schools safe during the COVID-19 pandemic by reading this pamphlet from the World Health Organization.