Opinion: Coronavirus Cancels WPS–a Healthy Choice

Adam Dapolite '20, Opinion Editor

Even though there are no confirmed cases in Westborough, I was not surprised to hear that Westborough Public Schools (WPS) would be closed as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 which is more commonly known as coronavirus. After learning the facts about coronavirus from the Board of Health and in consultation with the Board of Selectmen and Superintendent Amber Bock, the Westborough School Committee made the decision to close Westborough Public Schools for one week.
During this time the schools will be extensively cleaned and a more comprehensive strategy for combating the virus’s spread will be developed. Though it is unclear whether the closure will make use of Alternative Learning Days (ALDs) or not, more information will be coming out from Superintendent Bock in the days to come.

It is my view that this motion is one that is done to prevent the spread of a virus that we don’t know enough about yet, and this break gives the school committee time to assess all their options for the future.

The little information that we have on coronavirus is from countries that have already been infected such as China, Italy, and Iran. Since we have not seen a virus similar to the coronavirus before, we were unprepared for a virus of this magnitude, and we needed to figure out how to react when the virus did eventually reach the United States. The closest point of comparison we have is the flu pandemic which took place in 2009. Learning from the mistakes we made in the past, but then also adapting to the new situation is vital to the containment of the virus. These adaptations, unfortunately, include canceling or postponing large gatherings such as a school musical, sports practices, and other school-wide events.

Though disappointing for the WPS community, these are the important measures we need to take to ensure the safety of the Westborough community. The school committee is making their best judgment with the information that they are given. The safety of all WPS students is at the head of all of their choices, especially when there are so many variables that are still unknown about the coronavirus.

Just to be perfectly clear, the majority of WPS students are not at risk to contract the coronavirus. The concern is for elderly people and community members with compromised immune systems. So why close schools? Because even if the virus may not pose a significant threat to students, they may be a carrier for the virus which, if spread to one of the at-risk groups mentioned above, is a serious issue. This, along with the need for more information, was the driving factor behind the decision to close WPS.

In the meantime washing your hands, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, and staying out of large gatherings are the three most pertinent things you can do to slow the spread of the virus.