Rushing Back into “Normalcy”


photo used with permission

Gabe Rousseau, Staff Writer

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. 

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