PCP Full Time School, Good or Bad?
April 30, 2021
Why We Need Normalcy
The Phase 3 reopening plan for SASD was put into place here at SHS on April 19. This decision was a controversial one, but one that is necessary. While many have safety concerns, it’s important to recognize that this decision would not have been made if it were too dangerous.
Transmission numbers at SHS throughout hybrid learning have been very low, and in-person mask policies have been strictly enforced. We will continue to abide by these policies throughout the transition to fully in-person learning, and though social distancing has reduced, three feet is still a safe distance.
I and many other students have grown increasingly frustrated with the hybrid model of learning. Sitting in front of a computer screen on Zoom meetings for seven hours every day is very draining, and it can be easy to fall behind on virtual days because there’s no obligation to pay attention. I’ve spoken with students who admit that they see their online classes as more of a podcast to listen to while doing something else, rather than something important they need to pay attention to, and many teachers realize this.
It’s incredibly difficult to teach to a Zoom meeting and to an in-person class at the same time, especially with the hybrid schedule that was formerly in place. Not having to pass out the same papers twice or teach the same lesson over and over will make the rest of the school year go much more smoothly.
There will still be students learning over Zoom, but less virtual learners will be easier on teachers. Going back to fully in-person learning will force students to pay attention and allow teachers to give their all to each class. There will always be some level of risk, but prioritizing learning is important.
For many people, normalcy never really left, despite a global pandemic seemingly shutting down the world. People continued to visit friends and family, some never even wore masks to begin with, and frontline workers, like healthcare workers or grocery store employees, were generally not sent home to work digitally.
The world never truly came to a halt, and life will have to resume for everyone else eventually. Putting off the return to normal will only cause more harm than good, especially for struggling students.
The district is trying to prioritize education in a difficult time while keeping student safety in mind. Though it’s risky to go back, risk will always be there. The option to stay completely virtual is available for those who wish to take it, and ultimately, the decision on returning to fully in-person schooling was inevitable.
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Rushing Back into “Normalcy”
Students at SHS recently made their return to full time in person learning, with the exception of those who chose to stay virtual. While I understand that some students need constant in person interaction to do well in school, I believe that this decision does not have all people’s best interest in mind.
From talking with other students, there has been a ton of anxiety going into this final phase for the school year. I know I am not alone when I say that I don’t believe we are at a point where it is safe to put hundreds and hundreds of people in a building together.
It is impossible to ensure that all students and staff are following all safety protocols and doing the things that keep people safe. With the new social distancing guidelines down to only three feet, this causes more close contact and puts more people at risk.
April has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in children under 18 in Dane County. Janel Heinrich, the director of Public Health Madison Dane County, recently discussed the current trend of cases in children.
¨“In the past two weeks, 21% of all new COVID diagnoses have been in those under the age of 18, in comparison to the entire duration of the pandemic, where we saw those under 18 represent only 13% of all cases,” she says.
While the recovery rate for children with COVID-19 is much higher than those over 18, it still puts more adults in a tough position. More kids are bringing home COVID-19, putting more and more family members and others at risk.
The highest risks during this transition are in between classes and at lunch.
During this time, an abundance of students are bunched up in the hallways with little to no space in between students.
This obviously puts students and staff at risk and makes proper safety precautions impossible.
Lunchtime is even worse, as a large amount students are not wearing masks and are spaced closer together.
Hybrid learning was a more responsible approach to give kids a sense of normalcy while also keeping them in a safer public environment. It allowed students to have in-person interaction and learning while keeping them well enough apart. It is a healthy balance of having productive, safe, in person-learning during the pandemic.
While it was inevitable that schools would return to full in-person learning at some point, it is tough to push normalcy back into everyone’s lives right now. Not everyone is vaccinated and not everyone is comfortable with being around a large number of people for an extensive period of time, five days a week.
During hybrid learning, it was ideal for students to attend their in person classes when scheduled, but were excused if they wanted or needed to attend virtually those days.
With phase three, students are losing that option. Students have to choose whether they want to attend in-person or online full time. If they choose to stay home, they are not allowed to attend virtual classes. It is crazy to put the decision of being all in or all out on a kid when there is still a bit of uncertainty regarding the pandemic- especially when there is only a month and some days left of the school year.
For students like me, I feel safer and more comfortable in the hybrid environment. I enjoy attending my classes in person two to three days a week while still being able to socially distance from other students. I am not thrilled about being put in an environment with hundreds of other students where social distancing is near impossible.
On the other hand, I do understand the motive behind bringing kids back to the building. It was inevitable that kids would resume education in the building at full capacity at some point, so I understand trying to get kids used to it with the remaining time left in the year. For the seniors, it can be important to give them some normalcy for the last month of high school. These are things I understand, but they do not persuade me to agree with the decision being made. Many kids have found ways to spend time with their friends and do their school work productively without the addition of hundreds of others in the same space.
With only a little over a month in the school year, it does not make sense to bring back all students to the building.The increased risk is not worth the reward and can only do more harm than good at this point in the school year. I feel it is best to let things ride out the way they have been, and start fresh next year.