Pro: We should return to in person learning

Jackson Rickert, Opinions Editor, Columnist

With Covid-19 comes many new realities for people across the US, online school being one of them. Remote learning comes with many challenges as all new situations do, but these cons clearly outweigh the pros. 

One worry is a rise in child abuse cases that go unreported. Students in abusive households can seek help from schools when schools are open, but lose that support when they are closed. Teachers are the child welfare agencies’ eyes and ears on a day to day basis when students are in school, reporting suspected abuse cases and saving children from dangerous homes. 

Anna Gassman-Pines, a public policy professor at Duke University, said, “When there are large-scale job losses in communities, child maltreatment rates go up.” Jill Cook, assistant director of the American School Counselor Association in Virginia, said something similar. “My concern is children for whom school was a safe space are now perhaps in environments where they really don’t have a lot of leverage to move or go outside or leave… that they’re in unsafe environments.” With schools closed abuse hotline calls are down up to 50 percent. According to Darren DaRonco, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Child Safety, “That means many children are suffering in silence.”

There are also grades to think about. A study on online school done by Stanford found that students’ grades drop while learning on an online platform. Students pay considerably less attention to lessons while learning online due to a number of distractions that require time management and self-motivation that younger students have yet to learn and master.

Other schools such as Harvard have done similar studies. Harvard found that students retained considerably less information when learning in an online environment. This causes lower grades in later classes that utilize the information that students don’t remember.

Online school doesn’t only affect the learning of students, it also has a large impact on their mental health. Students and teachers begin to experience social isolation due to a lack of communication causing heightened stress and anxiety. 

The lack of face-to-face communication also means that younger students aren’t learning the social skills necessary to excel later in life. This leads to students who don’t know how to properly work as a team, putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a job later in life.  

While the majority of schools are stuck in an online setting, a few have been able to return using a hybrid model. Students in Chicago have been able to return to in-person learning centers. The infection rate of these learning centers has remained flat. Some private schools in the Portland area have also been able to return in a hybrid format, such as West Side Christian. These schools have seen no outbreaks of Covid-19. By wearing masks, checking temperatures and social distancing, these schools have been able to safely and effectively return to in person learning. Lake Oswego schools could do the same, putting students back into a much more effective learning environment.