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Back to School with COVID-19

Hi everybody, this is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question:

My son graduated from high school this year. He was disappointed that his graduation was virtual. He is preparing to start college in the fall, his particular university is having in-person classes using all of the appropriate precautions. If it were your son, would you feel comfortable letting him go to college, live in the dorms, and attend classes in person?

So I’m going to answer this as if I had a kid, and my crew will answer as if they are students.

Here’s the deal, this is what I would do, if I were a parent (in my case my son is 30-some years old, so that ship has sailed). I would feel comfortable if I was comfortable that the university was taking precautions. For instance, I sit on the board of a university, and in their dorms they’ve installed plexiglass between beds where people are sharing a room. They are doing 6 feet minimum spacing in classrooms. They sanitize every classroom after every class dismisses. So, I have reasonable belief that they’re doing the right thing. But, I’m not the only one in the decision, and I’m not the one going to school. So what does my crew think? Do you go, if you’re a student?

Crew Member 1: Yeah, if they’re taking all the precautions, and you’re doing the 6 feet apart thing. I never lived in dorms, so I can’t speak on that, but I think the classroom setting should be fine.

Crew Member 2: Yeah, I would also go. I would definitely go and see for myself that they’re doing everything right, but if they are then I have no problem with that.

So, there you go. If you’re using the right precautions, I would send my kids to school. They would go to school. I think it’s a personal choice, you’re not making it by yourself. And I will say (and I’m not a doctor!) that I think if you look at the statistics for “kids” up to the age of 24 are less than about 0.5% in terms of contagion. So I think if you understand the odds, and you do the right thing relative to sanitation, social distancing… I don’t know if they’re making them wear masks or not… but the most important thing is to have a conversation with your kid. And you said he was prepared to start college in the fall, you didn’t say whether or not he was comfortable, so have that conversation.

But here’s the thing I want to encourage you to do as a parent. I don’t want you to incite fear in your kids. I don’t want you to create a narrative or an environment where your kids come from fear all the time. Life is full of risk. Life is full of challenge. And we have to create environments for people, particularly kids, where they understand that you cannot insulate yourself from any risk whatsoever, at any time. Part of life is learning how to deal with those kinds of things in a wise and prudent way, by using the things that the three of us have shared with you today.

So yeah, I would, the guys here would go to school, that’s our two cents. I hope that’s helpful!

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