Concerns for the transition to in-person learning

Concerns+for+the+transition+to+in-person+learning

Gracie Cox, Opinions Editor

After many arduous months of online learning, the time has finally come to return to “normal,” in-person school. In a matter of months, LOHS students and staff will begin to head back in the building and resume a more traditional way of learning. Some are excited, but others are not looking  forward to the rest of the school year. These differing reactions lead me to ask “Is there reason to be concerned about in-person learning?” Let’s find out.

One of my personal worries about school during the pandemic is the idea of spreading the virus. And, from what I’ve heard, I’m not alone in this fear. Many students and staff find the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to be reason enough to stay out of physical classrooms, but, the school reassures it will have plenty of protocols that should keep us out of harm’s way if they are observed accordingly. These include the typical six feet of distance between one another, wearing masks and much more rigorous cleaning throughout the day. There are other safety precautions that will be taken, and I recommend that you take a look at them on the district’s “Roadmap to Reopening.”

My main concern, however, is not that these protocols exist, but whether or not they will end up being followed by students. I think that putting kids in this potentially dangerous situation requires a lot of trust in them, and I don’t know if this trust is well-deserved. I’m confident in the majority of our student body, but I worry that the minority (mask non-believers and “social butterflies”) may spoil going back to school for the rest of us. I recognize that most students and hopefully all teachers will take the safety precautions into account, but I also know that not every member of our community has taken the pandemic seriously so far. Why would they start now?

If I put on my fortune teller hat and look to this upcoming April, I can envision our school’s halls filled with students huddling much closer than six feet apart. Just spatially,  it would be difficult to keep even half of our students distanced appropriately in the hallways. It wouldn’t necessarily be their fault, but it is still a danger to everyone around us, including those who are more vulnerable to serious COVID-19 symptoms.

Also, the district needs to be more specific about what types of masks students can wear because of their varied effectiveness. The style, fit, and material of a mask all affect how well it blocks droplets of the virus. So does the inclusion of mask inserts. Looser masks made out of polyester with singular layers (like “neck gaiters” or bandanas) don’t perform nearly as well as the typical surgical or tightly-fitting cloth masks. If our students or staff opt for these types of masks, they are putting everyone else at risk. If we truly want a safe return to school, we need to make sure that this can’t happen, and we need to have mask consistencies.

Even apart from the safety aspect, the transition back to school would be a shock to the system for almost everyone. Over this past year, we have all fallen into a new routine of doing class from the comfort of our own homes. For some (me, especially), the idea of getting out of my bed and actually leaving the house for school sounds both mentally and physically exhausting. We’re now familiar with a somewhat stagnant lifestyle and jumping out of that and plunging into our old school days is guaranteed to feel strange. 

Nevertheless, I hope that we can acclimate ourselves to in-person school reasonably quickly. The environment may feel a little off at first, but I think that these sorts of things just take time. Soon enough, your bonds with your peers and staff will be rekindled. And if you still feel too uncomfortable at school, you can always switch to LO Online at any point.

On that note, I’ll see you soon, Lakers! Enjoy your last couple of months of class in bed.