Caribbean nationals, like other students in the United States, have been bombarded with mixed messages about returning to school during the time of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
There is no national policy for when students can return to the classroom for in-person lessons, but there has been plenty of debate across the country about if or when they should do so.
The political pressure has mounted considerably, with President Donald Trump insisting that schools re-open and students admitted. When asked, Trump said his own teenaged son will be returning to the classroom, but news reports indicated that the boy’s private institution will not be re-opening anytime soon.
Meanwhile, schools have already re-opened in parts of the U.S. - some with disastrous results. A junior high school in Indiana recorded a case of COVID-19 infection the first day it re-opened late last month.
In Georgia, hundreds of children attending a summer camp were infected with the virus, raising significant concerns among not just students and teachers, but also those who these two groups must live with at home.
In Florida, home to a significant Caribbean American community and which has become a COVID-19 hotspot with hundreds being infected and killed each day, the concern is particularly high. To compound the problem, the state has been confronted by the hurricane season. Already at least one storm - Isaias - has brushed by the state, stretching already limited resources.
Meanwhile, many schools across the U.S. have adapted policies to combat the spread of COVID-19, including guidelines provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those include quarantine protocols and contact tracing. Some have also instituted social distancing guidelines and require students to wear masks and/or face shields while attending classes.
Some schools have not re-opened full time and others have closed down shortly after re-opening as COVID-19 infection cases spiked in their area. Most students have been taking classes online and some colleges have juggled their classroom schedule specifically to reduce the amount of personal student traffic.
Through the end of July more than 155,000 people had been killed by the virus in the U.S. and over five million infected, according to official reports.