Redeemer Classical School will be open for in-person instruction this fall.
Many families are worried about what school is going to look like this year. This is what we are going to do and why.
We will give in-person instruction to all of our classes every weekday during our normal hours. While we will take some precautions, they will be designed to interfere with an excellent education as little as possible.
Teaching and learning at a high level can only be done in person. A good education is one of the most valuable things in the world, and is worth doing even if it requires some risk. In fact, everything worth doing involves some risk. Education is not mere information download, it is a moral formation that requires mimesis – imitation and repetition.
An education is a shaping of loves that is subtle and difficult. It is often the case that a student will get a spark in his eye, or a flash across his lips when he hears something good, true, or beautiful. A teacher can only fan that spark to flame if he can see it.
There is no substitute for teaching face to face. It is simply impossible to replicate, particularly with online learning.
We are not unaware of the risks and do not take them lightly. We do, however, want to be clear on what those risks are. With the benefits of time and hindsight, we know much more about the dangers COVID-19 poses to school children and their families than we did this spring.
The evidence about the risk to children is clear: it is quite small. From an article in the Wall Street Journal: “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 children under age 15 have died from Covid-19. In a typical year 190 children die of the flu, 436 from suicide, 625 from homicide, and 4,114 from unintentional deaths such as drowning.”
Also, more than 600 children die per year from car accidents. These death rates do not prevent us from driving with our children, letting them swim, or sending them out during flu season. The risk to children from COVID-19 is at least six times smaller than any of these activities.
The risk that children might carry this disease home and spread it to others is also small. Multiple studies done in Iceland, Ireland, France, New York City, and elsewhere have found that children are much less likely than adults to catch the disease or to pass it along. In Ireland, Iceland, and Netherlands studies, scientific researchers found zero cases of a child spreading the disease to someone else. That is literally thousands of contacts with a 0 percent infection rate.
Additionally, the YMCA and the New York Department of Education hosted daycares all during the lockdowns and never had more than one case from adult or child at any site. From the same article: “There are almost no recorded cases of child-to-adult transmission of COVID-19,” says Elliot Haspel, an education policy expert and child care advocate. “It’s not zero risk, [but] we’re acting with a March 2020 understanding of COVID-19 and kids, and not with a June 2020 understanding of COVID-19 and kids.”
At the height of the pandemic in the hardest-hit city in the United States, no school building, each hosting hundreds of children, saw more than one person get this virus. Our school has much smaller class sizes and a much smaller total number of students than these daycares and most schools, period, and resides in a city with a tiny fraction of New York City’s infection rate. This means Redeemer is in fact one of the safest possible environments for in-person instruction in the country.
The information we have shows the risks to children, their families, and their friends are small compared to the benefit our children receive from the best education we can give them. So we should and will reopen our school this fall as normal.