The idea of going back to school early next year during the coronavirus pandemic has extracted a series of mixed emotions among students.
Students who, during our previous way of learning, often lamented about being “forced” to come to school early in the morning every day of the week, have found themselves missing certain aspects of it. Whether it be their friends, popular school events, or even the need to fall back into a basic routine, many can agree that something is definitely missing.
Life at home has become a bland cycle for some students, and an isolated one at that. Students find themselves stuck in a rinse and repeat, doing the same things everyday. School gave them some variety, and they could have face-to-face conversations with people other than their immediate family. Virtual school has cut out some of the more interactive parts of learning like science labs and physical education with friends.
The workload has changed drastically as well. Some students speculated that the teachers think they have twice as much time so they give them twice the work. Of course, the school system is working to change that now, but for some that damage was already done.
Still, as different as virtual learning may be, some have come to prefer it to physical school, dreading the idea of going back in January. For them, quarantine has been going pretty smoothly. They’re able to work at their own pace, sometimes starting early and finishing up before lunchtime.
“Since my teachers record their classes, I feel I have more time to form an understanding of what I’m learning,” said senior Mindy Zheng, a fan of virtual learning. She added, “Also as someone with a part-time job, online learning gives me a more flexible schedule. It’s very convenient.”
The idea of going back to school would be solely for human interaction, but that’s not guaranteed either. In-person learning will likely be full of restrictions and distance, likely to make kids even more miserable than when they were cooped up in their houses.
“It’s a shame that I can’t see all of my friends face to face, but I haven’t lost contact with them,” mentioned senior Makayla Brogan. “Plus I have the privilege of spending more time with my family than before.”
According to Fairfax County’s official Reopening Schools Plan, there are five identified principles to guide all school reopenings. Number one is to “ensure safe learning and working environments for students and staff,” meaning basic social distancing and clean surfaces.
Two is to “provide family choice in student learning format.” There are two options for families: “Full-time online instruction for the year; or in-person instruction continuum delivered flexibly throughout the year based on changes in public health data.”
Three is to “ensure all students receive instruction that meets state and federal standards and have the necessary support for success.” These supports include: “Access to technology and connectivity; social-emotional wellness and health supports; and additional supports to meet needs of special populations.”
Four requires for schools to “provide training, time, support, and flexibility necessary for staff to prepare for successful reopening,” and five also requires schools to “provide proactive, clear communication (with translations) to all families and staff.”
To prepare for the future, they have come up with four operational levels: 100 Percent Virtual Learning, Cohort Learning, Hybrid Learning, and 100 Percent In-Person Learning (Information below).
The decision to return can not be solely based on opinion, however, as students whether they are in favor or returning or not must weigh the options. Are they ready to put up with regular testing? Can they handle another year void of direct contact? Given that children are ample virus-spreaders, cases could see a significant increase the moment schools open. The best and only way to return to school is to do it safely or not return at all.