Community Weighs Return to In-Person Learning

Junior Alissa Flett enters a classroom wearing a protective mask. The AUHSD is currently making decisions over whether students should be returning to schools during COVID-19.

COVID-19 cases are still prevalent, yet, more than ever before, students and parents are pushing to return to in-person learning.

There are many differing opinions on the issue of whether or not to go back onto campus, but those opposed to distance learning have become more outspoken. There is currently a petition for going back on campus that has over 1,000 signatures. There was also an email sent out saying that certain students would boycott cohort academies until the district allowed students on campus.

In addition to recognizing that the change could not happen overnight, the petition “advocates for the immediate formation of task forces to provide additional critical thinking and a road map for the return to in-person learning.” The email also requests the commencement of a hybrid model no later than November 2 as well as weekly meetings to keep parents informed.

“If people are willing to go out in public with a mask, then they should be willing to go to school as well,” said junior Audrey Davis. “I have seen many of my peers out in public either out to dinner without a mask or shopping with a mask on which is really no different than being in a classroom with a mask.”

Another reason Davis believes we should hasten the return to in-person classes is that online school is very difficult for students. “I think we should return to campus because online school is too much to a lot of people. For me, I feel like I do school all day. At least before online school, it felt like being at school and homework were 2 different things but now that our school is at home as well as our homework I end up spending all day doing school,” said Davis.

However, there are many students that have concerns about going to campus amidst the rise in Covid cases. Some are concerned about the safety of students, teachers, and staff, while others are concerned about the amount of work and stress that would accompany a transition into a hybrid model.

“I don’t think we should go back to campus anytime soon because it just doesn’t seem safe. If you look at other states, many of their cases are coming from schools and many people are having to quarantine. I don’t think it’s worth it to risk the safety of the students, but, most importantly, the teachers who may be more in danger from the virus,” said junior Audrey McBride.

“I fully recognize the complexity of the issues involved. I value input from our stakeholders, students, staff, parents, and I recognize the concerns regarding health and safety and take those very, very seriously,” said Principal John Walker. “We do not want to reopen this campus to large numbers of students unless it’s going to be safe and we’re going to be able to maintain the highest health and safety standards. So I acknowledge those concerns. I have those concerns myself in the sense that we want our staff and our students and our campus visitors to be safe.”

Sophomore Lucienne Aziz-Mahoney expressed concerns for how students would behave if they returned to campus, and how that would affect the coronavirus situation in our community. Aziz-Mahoney said, “I think that people at Campo wouldn’t take it seriously, and they would just not wear the masks or distance at all, causing the cases to rise even more. Maybe that if they just agree to stay home and use good protocols this whole thing will be over faster.”

Junior Ally Loyet expressed concern about the transition back onto campus potentially being too messy, confusing, and stressful at this moment. She also believes that the district does not need to respond to the protests and petitions about going back on campus. “Ultimately it is the school’s decision if we are going back to school or not,” said Loyet.

Junior David Ona believes that the district “should acknowledge the protesters/petitions, but the decision should ultimately be made based on what health officials have to say.”

“We should listen to health officials and follow the guidelines. Students’ health should be the #1 priority,” said Ona. “If we go back to campus, I’d like to keep the schedule with 75-minute classes and 15-minute breaks between them.”

Walker said, “Starting next week, we’re going to start bringing on small groups of students for academic support. We’ll have sessions in the morning and in the afternoon and more small groups of students can come and work with a teacher, in-person, on-site with all the proper protocols and social distancing. So that’ll be a step toward reopening the campus, but it’s an initial step, and it’s a small measured step.”