By: Sarah Yi — Editor-in-Chief
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker plans for students to return back to classrooms after learning remotely since last March. While many students will be back learning in-person, parents will still have the option to keep their children remote.
President Joe Biden continues to push an increase in coronavirus testing and personal protective equipment in schools, yet some teachers and other advocates voice that his promise to reopen most K-8 schools in less than 100 days is “very unlikely.”
“We’ve seen the repercussions of prolonged remote learning for our kids,” said Baker. “Their social, mental, and emotional well-being has been significantly impacted.” He says kids want to be in school learning alongside their friends and want to have a chance to engage with their teachers in person. “Kids can safely return to classrooms, where they are best positioned to grow and thrive,” Baker added.
Ruby Reyes of the Boston Education Justice Alliance told the Boston Herald, “I want to be able to imagine it, but I just can’t.”
“We are working with the high school reopening team to develop the return to all in-person with a remote option plan and it is still in the early stages,” said Principal Joe Scozzaro. “We don’t have a definitive date of return yet but we are planning to implement in May.”
Given many numbers regarding total students and staff in cohorts in the March 12 Eagle’s Eye, there will be an estimated number of 608 students in the building 5 days a week when the All In-Person option is available. “All high schools are ordered to switch to All In-Person with a Remote Option at some point after April 28,” said Scozzaro.
“We would be moving to 3-foot configurations in classrooms to accommodate the increased numbers and 4 to 6 feet in those few classes with smaller numbers,” Scozzaro stated. In order to stay safe as many students will be back in the school, continuing to be vigilant with staying home when sick, masking, sanitizing often, and social distancing will be required.
Full Remote student, Cohort D, junior Wendy Wooden says she thinks that reopening the school is a mistake. “Not everyone has gotten a vaccine yet and they’re putting students back in a room where the virus can easily be spread,” said Wooden.
“I’ll feel comfortable returning back to school when every single person in the school has a vaccine,” Wooden added. She says that it will definitely be safer for everyone then.
Another Cohort D student junior Niki Murthy says as long as health is ensured and maintained, and there is still an option to remain fully remote, she doesn’t see a problem with fully reopening schools. “I do worry that remote students may feel even more isolated from their classmates than they already do, but that is not a major concern,” Murthy added.
She says apart from logistic elements, Murthy thinks the transition will be quite rough, especially considering the timing and circumstances. “Many students have been home for the entire year and have adjusted to this new mode of education,” she said.
“Bringing students back to school relatively suddenly at the tail end of the school year seems like it would post difficulty for students and staff,” added Murthy. “Nevertheless, as long as health is ensured and students are still given the choice to stay at home, I don’t have many concerns.”
Although Murthy doesn’t have many concerns regarding reopening a full in-person option along with a continuation of a full remote option, she says she would feel comfortable returning back to school next school year. Murthy says she doesn’t want to return back to school this year because “health-wise, I enjoy not having the tension of calculating my every move as it pertains to Covid safety, and there is no doubt that Covid will still be a major concern in April and May, despite the vaccines.”
“In regards to my personal experiences, transitioning to being in-person at the end of a fully remote year will bring a lot more unnecessary tension and confusion into an already stressful year,” said Murthy. She says at the beginning of next school year, things with Covid will hopefully settle down to a much higher degree, and it will be a fresh start to begin going to school in-person again.
Cohort C Hybrid student senior Brynne Aidlin-Perlman says she is in support of transitioning back into full in-person learning. One concern she says she has about the transition is lunch. “I am fortunate enough to be able to leave at 1:10 pm and I don’t have to eat lunch at the building. However I have junior lunch on Mondays and Thursdays and even that with a limited number of people in the building feels incredibly uncomfortable, so I am worried about how we would be able to eat lunch safely in the cafeteria,” Aidlin-Perlman said.
“We have begun looking at our lunch periods first as the guidance tells us that we have to plan to provide space for students to eat while sitting at least 6 feet apart,” Scozzaro states in the Eagle’s Eye.
Aidlin-Perlman says there are many reasons as to why students choose to go hybrid and other reasons why students choose to be fully remote. “A lot of remote students prefer to stay home because they like the comfort of their own homes and they maybe learn better at home while others learn better in person,” said Aidlin-Perlman.
“But I think if full in-person learning is offered, there are a lot of people, mostly the senior class, will just stay home because they don’t feel a need to go into school, while some people do and want to be able to see their friends,” Aidlin-Perlman added.
Aidlin-Perlman says we see people posting on their social media where they are not social distancing and are hanging out with friends without masks or having small get-togethers. She says she thinks if full in-person learning is offered, some of those people might opt to go back to school because they would want to have the social aspect of school back.
“I think a concern about that would be at the end of the year we offer full in-person learning, a lot of people who aren’t social distancing outside of school might just come in and walk around the hallways which might potentially lead to a shutdown if there is an eruption of Covid cases,” said Aidlin-Perlman.
“I think it would be a lot worse to end the year with a shutdown and everybody has to be remote rather than having a hybrid where there is a less chance of ending the school year with a shutdown,” Aidlin-Perlman said.
image from wsls.com