Returning to Campus: Pros

Amanda Chang, Staff Writer

So many questions have arisen since the announcement that Arcadia Unified School District elementary students and middle/high schoolers will return to campus on Apr. 12 and Apr. 19, respectively. What are some of the things that families and students might gain from returning to in-person classes?

Personally, I feel that elementary students will be able to learn skills that are necessary for everyday life but are harder to learn online. For example, social skills are learned through personal experiences that help kids to grow and mature through their interactions with peers, adults, authority figures, and society. Children cannot easily learn how to share, sit still, listen to others, be quiet, be respectful, and be kind to others if they are sitting in their own homes on mute during school. Although it will still be a challenge for them to acquire these skills when practicing social distancing and when wearing masks, I think it will still be easier for them to grow and learn lessons that they will apply throughout their lives.

Additionally, going back to school is beneficial for the mental health of students and parents. The rate of teen suicide has increased by 32% in the last four years. There have also been studies showing that depression and anxiety have increased during the pandemic while members of households are at each other’s throats from being cooped up in lockdown. Going to campus will be a nice change of pace and scenery for families. For students like 5th graders, 8th graders, and seniors, it will be a chance to gain closure for their final year at their elementary, middle, or high school.

Another outlet for kids that will help their mental health will be the personal connections that they can make at school. They will have a chance to spend time with their friends, relate to their classmates, and establish relationships with their teachers and peers. It is hard for everyone, let alone children, to make friends through online platforms. When in virtual classes, students cannot connect as well with their classmates because, in most scenarios, the teachers are the only ones who talk while the students are on mute. While given the chance to connect through breakout rooms, turning a camera off, muting, or lying about technological difficulties seems easier than going through an awkward conversation. In person, conversation flows much more easily and communication through small facial expressions and gestures is easier to gauge as well.

Besides better communication between peers, there will be better communication from teachers to students as well. Kids who have had difficulties paying attention or understanding their teachers will have an easier time learning in person. They will have more opportunities to ask for clarification. Kids who do not have as many resources at home—such as a limited number of rooms or poor internet connection—will also have an easier time learning at school, where they can get the resources they need. 

Parents who need to work will not have to worry about working from home or finding childcare services if they need to work outside the home. I know from personal experience that my mom has to constantly monitor my younger siblings to keep them on track during class. Parents now have an option that allows their kids to attend school out of the house. After school, parents will not necessarily have to pick their kids up right away either because after-school care is available.

According to Arcadia’s Roadmap to Reopening website, “Beginning Apr. 12,  there will be free after-school care for those families electing to return their students to in-person instruction through Right at School. Arcadia Unified will be paying for Right at School’s after-school program as additional support for the scheduling needs of families that select in-person learning for the remainder of this school year.”

On the matter of health and safety, Mr. Kevin Fox, the president of the Arcadia Teachers Association, said in an interview that face masks, shields, and hand sanitizer will be provided for those returning to campus. He also said the air conditioning in classrooms has been upgraded to ensure better ventilation and filtration. Although Mr. Fox does not completely support the return to campus, he supports the families and teachers who will be returning.

“We know people in Arcadia. Our students have lost family members. Our teachers have lost family members. But you can’t just brush that off, it’s a serious thing. The emotional toll on teachers and families is legitimate. And then you have the littlest children that are not in school and parents see them struggling. That’s serious too. So I just want to urge everybody to respect the fact that we’re all in this together, that every single one of us cares about kids, and we want to do the right thing and the best thing,” said Mr. Fox.


Read more: Returning to Campus: Cons


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