St. Petersburg Youth Farm

Help me — help you — help us!

By Ramona Mitchell, 15 | St. Petersburg Youth Farm

It’s hard being a teenager in a pandemic as serious as COVID-19.  Although I’m looking forward to entering the 10th grade at Gibbs High School, I’m full of uncertainty and doubt.

Adults are not doing much to help protect the people around us, and we’re all living through this together. Offices and businesses are slowly beginning to reopen, yet the community around me has increased exposure numbers. Safety doesn’t seem to be everyone’s first priority, as these decisions are being made.

One example is the plan to reopen schools, everyone has an opinion on this, some think it’s a good idea, and others think it’s horrible. I, however, understand both perspectives.

Schools opening back up could be more harmful than beneficial. We need to think about what the outcomes could be if we choose to go back, and people’s lives are put in danger. As I weigh both sides of this argument, I can’t help but think about the lack of assurance being offered about our safety.

The city bus is my primary transportation, and I’m not sure what new safety measures are being implemented for this enclosed space that I will use twice daily. So many adults are struggling with following the safety measures outlined over the past 100 plus days, and we’re learning new information every day about how long the virus can live and methods for transmitting COVID-19.

We need to make sure that everyone who decides to come back follows the safety precautions put in place, such as face masks, social distancing, etc.  No one should be forced into an environment that is dangerous, and if the Pinellas County School Board knows of all the uncertainty, why would they decide to open up in the first place?

If we cannot be assured safety on the bus and in school, why is this even an option?  We’re all going to have questions just like these, but in my opinion, we need to do what’s best for ourselves and family members.

A decision to return to school in person or not should be based on data.  Although the online experience was not easy, I value my life and the bright future that’s ahead.

My decision would be to remain with virtual schooling, but the final decision will be made by my guardian. Let’s hope it’s guided by the data!

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