Returning to school in phase three unsafe for students and staff

Spilled Ink Staff

The news of PSD entering phase three for high school students on Oct. 21 has been met with conflicted feelings. Many students and staff members think going back to school is not worth it, that the building will only be open for a few weeks at most, that it is too risky, and it will not be as beneficial as one might think.

So, we ask, when does our education come at the potential cost of our well-being and the consideration of others? And we ask, when will the school board listen? How will they respond when we decide to boycott our own education out of fear, or when a human being under their care dies?

Resurrection Christian High School shut down four weeks ago following the confirmation of a student with Covid. Longmont High School has already had at least two confirmed cases of students with Covid after reopening, leaving some students uneasy about continuing in-person schooling. Based on these trends, FCHS will no doubt follow this path.

There are link leaders on the Spilled Ink staff who were in the building on Monday when Freshman orientation took place. They witnessed firsthand the lack of social distancing and the amount of kids who wore their masks incorrectly and were asked repeatedly to fix it. This is just the beginning of the danger our school board is asking us to deal with. Asking us to return to an in-person learning is ignorant and will come at the cost of students.

Also being taken away as we return to in-person learning are opportunities that we grew accustomed to in remote learning that we didn’t know were there before.

Students who need to help support their families by getting another job have the flexibility to do so, students who take care of their siblings have the time to do so. Some students even report doing better in a variety of ways through online learning, but it all comes down to this: going back to school will not make everything ok because we are not safe.

We have been constantly adapting since the first lockdown order due to this virus. There truly is no normal anymore. We can say it’s hard to learn on a computer, we’re social creatures, it’s hard to not be in person. But we have shown we can do this online. We have shown we can find ways to stick together in spite of what’s going on in the world, so why do we need to go back right now? Many have just gotten into the new rhythm of online schooling, many have just discovered what works for them and what doesn’t, many are still trying to learn, so why are we going to throw it all away? 

Although we are sure that the reintroduction of face-to-face learning will not last long, we realize as students that we shouldn’t be thrown into in-person education in the first place. We are surrounded by people who would be greatly and negatively impacted if they were to contract the virus. Many of our students and teachers are connected to loved ones who are classified as “high risk”, or even struggle with being high risk themselves. The guilt we are expected to carry if our sickness harms someone close to us is irreversible, as well as the potential outcome of contracting the Corona Virus. 

And the school board has not shown any ounce of interest in the health and well-being of us as students or staff members. Public health and safety is more important to us than being able to sit in a classroom. We should not be expected to return to a system where we are supposed to carry the weight of normal high school stress, as well as the anxiety that just by being in the building, we are risking the well-being of our friends, family, and community members.

There are those claiming that they are doing all they can to make it safe for in-person learning, but the rules and regulations we have been handed appear more like a prison system painted over with a glossy finish. Our classrooms will not be bursting with color as they should be, but rather, they will be full of grey muted tones, and signs, painted in that same glossy finish, explaining how happy we should be that we are safe now. 

Especially during this time of year, it is so uneducated to suggest returning to in-person learning. Flu season is coming up, and some symptoms of the flu could easily be mistaken for the virus. The stresses of the holidays, midterms, or finals, even just of the end of the year also make people extremely susceptible to getting sick.

There are some who may say we should simply have chosen complete virtual learning if we are this scared. Look in the eyes of those immuno-compromised and spit that same venom at them. Stand in front of teachers who are terrified of killing their students, students who are terrified they may kill their friends, and say these things.

Why can’t they see? Why won’t they listen? If they really care about us, why are they willingly putting so many at risk? Education and learning is supposed to be bright, enjoyable, filling students with the desire to keep moving forward and learn about life. So let’s analyze the rhetoric. If you cared about students, teachers, or our collective well-being at all… we would not be going back to school.

It’s been a hard time for educators, students, and parents, but does their struggle outweigh the definite harms that will come with going back to school? I know that a lot of younger kids will be set way back in school because of the pandemic, but we also have to realize the weight of the word pandemic, it means that people have died, people are dying, and people will continue to die if we don’t adequately prepare for it.