With each passing week, Covid cases within the school district seem to rise. This increase in positivity rates led to a temporary suspension of winter athletics, the gym being opened up for lunch to ease the congestion in the cafeteria, and continued enforcement of mask-wearing. Many teachers and students have been absent from school because of quarantine guidelines, and questions have been raised about whether or not the high school should continue with in-person learning.
Even though absences and Covid cases are rising, the high school should continue with in-school learning.
First, in-school learning is a critical aspect of many students’ education and helps to foster a better learning environment, especially in comparison to remote-school. Although students are wearing masks, they can still easily interact with friends, and more importantly, teachers. If the high school were to transition to remote-school, meetings with teachers would be severely hindered, and students would not feel as inclined to reach out and ask for help.
Furthermore, the high school has a high student and teacher vaccination rate, with both around 90 percent. Medical evidence shows that vaccines decrease the magnitude of the virus’s effects, and if those infected follow the correct quarantine guidelines, the health consequences will lessen.
Many, however, will cite reasons as to why the school should transition to remote-school for a period of time. For example, the seven day average of Norfolk County has risen to 1,958 cases, a sharp increase since the beginning of December. Additionally, there have been 190 positive cases from January 7th to January 13th within the Wellesley school district, a notable amount that should obviously not be ignored.
In addition, school can be a breeding ground for a virus spread, with some students not adhering to masking and other integral safety measures, thereby increasing the possibility of infection. Based on all of this, it seems as if the high school administration should consider shifting to remote-school.
While these are fair arguments in support of going remote, the most viable option is to remain in school. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agrees. He has said that the new Omicron Variant is contagious and will “find just about everybody”, but admits that school is safe enough for kids, especially those who are vaccinated.
Also, the student adjustment from in-person to remote-school is little in comparison to the adjustment for teachers. With school in full swing at the moment, providing adequate lessons to cater to subject material would prove to be much more difficult online, along with keeping students attentive to what they’re teaching.
I understand why many parents and students would want the school to transition to remote-school, since Covid is still a serious illness that can have severe consequences. There are many people with underlying health conditions, and if exposed, can contract extreme illness from Covid. Some families have young children who have not been able to receive a vaccine, so having them or an older sibling do remote-school would be the best option in regards to health.
Hospitals are still burdened with the amount of Covid cases, and society is demoralized by its effects, which only increases the criticalness of vaccinations, mask-wearing, distancing, and being aware of any evidence of sickness. A potential solution to the issue of rising cases could be reinstating a hybrid model, but on a temporary basis. It would allow those who feel less comfortable in school at the moment to have the opportunity to switch to remote school if they so choose.
Although the amount of Covid cases is increasing at a reasonably fast rate, I think that the most feasible option is to continue conducting school in person. Students should still follow all the right safety measures to ensure their own health, and the health of others.