Virtual school is safest option, and it works

Tyler Letcher, Staff Writer

When Covid-19 began to spread at the beginning of this year, everybody in school expected schools to close. My peers and I joked about how nice it would be to have some time off, and teachers were constantly reminding us that a shutdown was likely to occur.

However, nobody really believed it when the shutdown was officially announced in mid-March. When we heard the announcement that schools were being let out early and were being closed for two weeks, nobody could believe it. We were ecstatic, and hoping for some relief from school due to an issue that didn’t affect us… or so we thought.

But this 2-week lockdown quickly lengthened with every press release from the state of Pennsylvania. As the months ticked down to summer, nobody really expected us to go back to finish the 2019-2020 school year. And, of course, we didn’t.

Since the end of the summer, plans for a virtual school year began to take shape. Schedules changed, new technology was purchased, and students had to learn how to, well, learn, all over again. Shortly after the beginning of the school year, however, criticism started to rise from parents, students, and teachers alike.

Many parents were concerned about their children’s abilities to learn online, with obvious issues with focus and staying on-task in a virtual setting. Many also argued that this put an unfair strain on parents that were working during the day, who would now either have to hire a sitter, stay home, or end up trusting their children to stay on task.

But students, especially teens, began to speak up as well. Many ended up not learning nearly as well as they did in-person, and socialization was another issue with students as well. Since early November, students have either stayed home in a virtual setting, or have been allowed to come back to school in-person, but only in an alternating hybrid model.

Even with safety measures in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, even in a couple of weeks in a hybrid model, we’ve seen multiple student and staff cases of Coronavirus at our high school alone. This, combined with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, has led to Montgomery County mandating the in-person closure of schools from Monday, November 23 to Monday, December 7.

But this closure for two weeks shouldn’t, and probably won’t, just be for these two weeks. As we’ve seen this past year, closures often are extended indefinitely, which is good news for those worried about contracting Covid. However, these cries for open schools will only ramp up in the days and weeks to come. But when it comes to student, staff, and the public’s safety, no chances should be taken. And while learning in a virtual setting is certainly inconvenient, safety is more important than comfort.