Back to school. Back to outbreaks.

Should monkeypox send us home?

Malachi Ferguson and Destiny Garrison

With COVID -19 still posing as a major global health threat, a new virus has emerged and has the world on high alert. Already affecting many, the monkeypox virus has been a predominant concern worldwide. According to the CDC, Monkeypox can spread to anyone through skin-to-skin contact, including direct contact with the monkeypox rash or body fluids. It can also be transmitted through touching objects, fabrics and surfaces that have been used by someone infected. With this new threat on the rise, it raises the question: should Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) return to digital instruction?

According to the CDC recorded cases, Monekypox has affected 57,527 people worldwide, and 21,894 in the United States. In Gwinnett County, Dacula Elementary School officials confirmed that one individual tested positive for Monkeypox on August 26th. A letter that went home to parents from the school’s principal, Ms. Holly Warren, says “I want to reassure you, we are taking this situation seriously and the risk of monkeypox transmission in a school setting is very minimal… the individual in question will remain off campus until cleared to return to school by medical officials.” According to Dr. Shira Doron, a medical doctor who studies infectious diseases, she says that schools should not be quarantined because of monkeypox. “This is not COVID-19, Dr. Doron says, it’s not as transmissble.” Dr. Doron continues by saying that sending students back to digital instruction is a “fear-based decision” and making those types of decisions can be harmful to a student’s education.

Despite the spread of monkeypox, it is not necessary for GCPS students to return to digital instruction, especially when so many students have expressed that the threat to their mental health felt much greater than the virus itself. Ariana Coleman, a senior at South, says “students did not get the proper attention and guidance when learning remote because the availability to resources were limited.”

Many students, similar to Coleman, have expressed that they feel that digital learning set them back socially, academically, and mentally and are still trying to recover from this. Even high performing students found themselves to be less engaged with school and had a hard time staying focused without proper counsel and instruction.

As scholars, we should be aware of what is going on in the world and take the necessary precautions to keep ourselves and our fellow Comets safe. With this, we need to ensure we are keeping our distance and knowing the risks and necessary precautions needed to be taken in order to limit exposure of viruses around our building.