The award winning student newspaper of Lake Oswego High School

Pro-Con: Should we return to online learning?

February 17, 2022

Should we return to online learning?

Pro

By: Nandita Kumar

There are clear benefits to both in person and online schooling. However, when it comes to the health and safety of the community, the decision is clear: we need to return to online learning. 

There are so many safety risks associated with in-person school in the midst of the pandemic. Have you seen our halls during break, lunch and passing period? Hundreds of us are packed together at times, increasing our chances of contracting Covid. While masks are mandated at our school, so many kids wear their masks incorrectly. Because the student body vastly outnumbers the staff, it is virtually impossible to ensure everyone is staying safe. During lunch, we aren’t allowed to leave campus, which means all of us are in close proximity to each other with our masks off at the same exact time. On top of all this, maskless school sports are still permitted, even as Omicron runs through our classes. This can mean that if one teammate contracts the virus, they all do.

And what if you do happen to contract the virus? I am sure you are all too familiar with the overwhelming panic of missing a single day of instruction at a school like ours, let alone five. Even missing a single 90 minute core class can force you to do a few days of catch-up. Because of the in-person format, kids are often forced to miss large swaths of school. Teachers do attempt to accommodate for this loss of instruction, but the pressure of teaching yourself the material can be overwhelming. Ask any student fresh out of quarantine how they’re feeling about school, and you’ll see what a toll this kind of learning environment takes. It would be different if the volume of cases weren’t high, but clearly they are. At this point, almost as many people are being hurt as being helped. 

Yes, online classes are less engaging than in person ones, but I would much prefer being able to attend a class than nothing at all. Yes, online classes can be difficult to maintain at times, but why don’t we at least do hybrid learning? Aside from abiding by the basic CDC guidelines, the school can’t do enough at the moment to warrant an in person effort. Most students are self policing, defining their own ideas of “safe,”  and praying the virus doesn take them out. We are currently living in an unsustainable environment. Yes, there are clear benefits to learning in person, but learning online grants us our health and safety, which should be paramount.

Con

By: Gracie Cox

Think back to your experience learning on Zoom last year. If you are like the majority of students, you remember a lack of motivation, experiencing social isolation and having a difficult time actually learning and retaining information taught through Zoom. The answer to this dilemma is simple: the benefits of in-person learning outweigh the potential risks, making online learning a poor substitute for in-person instruction.

The first difficulty associated with online learning is  the most important. That being mental health. Without having the opportunity to interact with peers and teachers face-to-face, the mental health of students suffers drastically and they are far more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. While physical safety always reigns supreme, students deserve to have their mental health taken into account when it comes to deciding how school during the pandemic is approached.

And even in terms of physical well-being, in-person learning is not a risky practice if approached correctly. As the CDC states, “The evidence to date suggests that staff-to-student and student-to-staff transmission are not the primary means of exposure to SARS-CoV2 among infected children. Several studies have also concluded that students are not the primary sources of exposure to SARS-CoV2 among adults in school settings.” If schools take the proper safety precautions such as social distancing, offering safe ways for students to eat lunch and requiring students and staff to properly wear face coverings, the risk of contracting COVID-19 at school is low enough for the community to feel safe staying in-person. 

Frankly, it’s very difficult to learn and to teach in an online setting. If you ask LOHS’s teachers about their experience teaching online, the majority will complain about how difficult it made their jobs. And for students, I myself can say that I found it troublesome to learn material on Zoom. As many of my peers would say, it was hard to focus and ask questions to better my understanding of what was being taught. Considering that the content being taught in classes is essential to succeed in the years to come and on standardized tests such as the SAT, online learning will have a drastically negative impact on the academic career of students who were forced to endure it. Putting ourselves into such a compromised position yet again is simply not worth it, and our school acknowledges this fact and as a result, has made no plans to return to online learning.

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