Online school has felt like a fever dream. The days were shorter, each day became the same as the one before, and some of us might have lost our social skills. The idea of returning back to school may sound exciting to you, after a long year of isolation. However, is returning to school a truly ethical or even safe idea?
To begin with, students are the ones who will be disadvantaged from this whole process of returning to in-person school while our state is only just moving toward the orange tier. While Arcadia Unified School District is putting tremendous effort into reopening schools and vaccinating staff, our safety as students simply cannot be guaranteed. As of now, there are still no vaccines available for individuals under 16 years old. With about three-fourths of the student body unable to be vaccinated, the many risks outweigh the benefits of going back to in-person school.
Even if social distancing, mask wearing, and safety precautions are implemented, none of us have control over where people go or who they interact with. It is impossible to control what students do where there is no supervision, such as in bathrooms, and people are bound to let their guard down about the graveness of this pandemic. Because of this, there may be a lack of consensus on how seriously safety precautions will be enforced. If a student is caught violating protocols after returning to campus, it could already be too late as they could easily have caught and transmitted the virus to another student.
Not only are students disadvantaged, but so are their loved ones at home. It is so easy to go back home without knowing you are a carrier of the virus. Ultimately, families are put at risk as well. What if a student carries the disease home to their grandparents, or believes that they did? How will they feel? Returning to schools is contrary to the famous “better safe than sorry” proverb that suggests it is wiser to be cautious than to be hasty and do something you will regret soon, regret being the consequence of putting yourself and others at risk.
Another aspect is the heavy burden that students must carry if they are returning. Fortunately, parents can help contain a student’s fears concerning the virus at home. But a dystopian school environment with harsh restrictions and strict protocols could be stressful for a student. Many students looking forward to seeing their friends and socializing during the school day, and interaction is paramount to the learning experience. Because of that, students may be disappointed when they can’t have the social interaction on campus that they crave.
Finally, it will be an equity nightmare. There are still a lot of questions in the air as to how normal class discussions will work, nor is it certain how learning circumstances will be fair for everyone. With a fraction of the class physically in school and the remainder online, students will experience an unfair playing field in learning. For instance, a student with unreliable Wi-Fi who chooses to stay online due to concerns with the pandemic will be in an unfortunate situation for tests or any assessments. It is also not certain how big our school’s bandwidth is, and no one has a clear picture of how many users can be online simultaneously.
Additionally, with the option for families to opt out, disadvantaged students and families are at an even higher health risk. Families that can’t afford to keep students at home and desperately need childcare will be forced to send their children to school. This means that students will be sent to school and may bring the virus home to their families, who may also be less able to seek medical care.
All in all, the return to school only brings danger to students and their families. Regardless of whether teachers are vaccinated or how safe the environment may be, there are still a multitude of problems that need to be resolved before returning to campus.
Read more: Returning to Campus: Pros
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