by Brianna Tripodi
Being a high school senior during this strange time was challenging and, at times, extremely upsetting. My last year in high school was turned upside down by something completely out of my control. This year should have been the best year of my high school experience, but it turned out to be anything but. However, I realize that people’s lives and their well-being are much more important than my senior year in high school. I miss seeing all of my friends during school, but I would much rather someone be able to safely return to their family every day and not have to worry about bringing Covid home.
“Parents are complaining” – we hear this a lot in regards to the current hybrid model at OHS, but why should parents’ voices be valued over the teachers and students who are the ones going to school? Many sports just restarted recently. If we bring students back full time, the resurrected sports seasons may be short lived. In a recent video message to the community outlining the potential risks of bringing students back full time, Oceanside Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Harrington said, “For every one case (of Covid), we’d now be quarantining 40 to 50 kids. That’s the risk some other districts are taking.” How would we be able to continue sports under those circumstances? The answer is we probably wouldn’t.
If we had more time left in the school year and there were consistently zero Covid cases reported at OHS, then I would be on board with coming back to school because, in all honesty, I miss it. I miss walking through bustling hallways and talking with my friends, I miss normal classrooms filled with twenty-five students, and I miss classes that felt light and joyful because now the energy in some classrooms seems dimmed. However, now is not the time to return to normal.
Having seniors return to school full time a week after we come back from spring break is a terrible idea; especially since we must assume that, unfortunately, some students will be having parties and even potentially travelling to places like Florida where masks are not mandatory. Not only that, but coming back to school with only two months left really isn’t worth the risk. Recently, I took a random poll of twenty OHS students. Nineteen students said they would want to keep the hybrid model for the remainder of the year. Only one student said she would want to go back full time. I’ve also had interesting class discussions about the potential of students returning full time. The teachers I’ve spoken with said that students coming back to school full time is not something that they would advocate for. One of my teachers expressed concern that they have a sick family member at home, and they are afraid of bringing Covid home to them. It’s hard to argue with a concern like that.
The hybrid model provides students the best of both worlds and still remains our safest option at this point. Yes, we are also being provided with the option to be fully virtual if students return full time, but I wouldn’t want to be home five days a week, and I don’t want to have to make that decision. Teachers have been so accommodating and understanding this year, but my fear is that if mostly everyone is back in the school full time, then the fully virtual students might feel forgotten about since, naturally, a teacher’s main priority is to work with the kids that are physically in the classroom. This decision comes down to what we value more: having a “normal” few months with potential for mass quarantines and seemingly less regard for student and teacher safety or being prudent and remaining cautious for the remainder of the year. The latter seems the way to go.