The CVUSD school board decided to extend distance learning until January at the earliest. This decision was met with several mixed feelings, ranging from students excited to continue online school for the rest of the semester to concerned parents who want their children back on campuses as soon as possible. The Olympian supports the decision and agrees that it is best to continue in distance education for the time being.
The most important thing to consider in making such a difficult decision is the safety of all students and staff. Schools began online in August for a reason, because it is not yet safe to return to campuses. While it is true that Alameda County has a smaller number of cases compared to other counties around us, there are not so few that it is safe to go back to in person learning. CVHS alone has thousands of people on campus on a regular school day. When we go back, infections will likely spike again, as they have in other places. There are many districts that have reopened too quickly that have had to go back online within only a few weeks.
By waiting until the flu and cold season and the holidays are over, the school board will be better able to reassess the situation. If many people travel to visit friends and family during the wintertime, there is a higher chance of spreading the virus and infecting others. If sports begin again in December as planned, they can provide a guideline to see what works and what doesn’t in terms of bringing students back to campuses. The long term effects of coronavirus are still unknown, and that’s a risk we will have to think about when we go back to school.
Additionally, by deciding to wait, this will give everyone more time to come up with a good plan for how they’re going to run school when we reopen. Students have just figured out how online school works, but there will be a huge readjustment for everyone once the hybrid model of in-person/online school begins. It might be confusing to have some days in school and some online; it’s better to be completely in person or completely online.
Despite all this, there are some valid reasons for why students should return to in person learning. Several students, especially those in elementary schools, are struggling with online learning at the moment and this could really hurt them in the long run. Also, there are connectivity and wifi issues. Some don’t have a good place at home to focus. Some teachers are struggling to teach and connect with their students, and many also have to split their time with their own kids at home that they need to watch. Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons is the overall concern that especially younger students’ mental health is being affected by the lack of social interaction with peers their age. However, the health of students and staff should be the first priority. People may feel safer about going back to school once there is a vaccine. Until then, The Olympian agrees with the school board that online learning is the best option for the time being.