Image provided by ViewSonic Library.
With Covid cases rising around the Bay Area, it is finally time for Washington to put students’ safety first and go back to distance learning. Many students at Washington are getting sick and missing important time during the start of the new semester. This makes it more difficult for them to be caught up with the new curriculum that teachers give at the beginning of each semester. Many parents want schools to be closed because they think that their students are not safe in the midst of this rise. It is also possible for teachers to test positive, therefore making it harder for students to learn. This article shows all of the positive cases present in the Fremont District, further proving how much of a problem this is. As more parents and students get worried about the rise of cases, this should urge districts around the state to shut down schools temporarily, even though it is very complicated to do so.
Many districts around the Bay Area have tried to close down, but California laws make it hard to do so, as it requires district officials to inform both the California Department of Education and their County Office of Education before deciding to close down schools. Schools must also apply for an emergency exception and prove that they have tried in person learning in order to receive funding if they choose to shut down. Many districts have shut down only for a couple of days as they had to be brought back because their counties urged them too. The Milpitas District tried to move online but Santa Clara County overruled their decision because it wanted them to continue in person school. It is very hard for districts to remain closed because of the laws that California put in place, even if the districts have gone through all of the barriers.
Many schools are trying to stay in person and avoid online learning, but it is very risky. Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that helped schools around California be more flexible and to hire retired teachers to fill in for teachers that have tested positive. The problem is that when Governor Newsom signed it, he had no intentions of wanting to go back to online learning. Many schools want more rapid tests but this has grown to be more rare and difficult to find. This adds another risk element because students and staff will not be able to find out if they tested positive until 3 to 4 days after they have taken the test. With districts trying to avoid online learning, more absences are common in schools, making it harder for teachers to teach students the curriculum with almost half of their students not attending.
Shifting to online is very difficult because many students may not feel comfortable working at their homes. Students might not have access to internet access making it harder for them to learn. However, with all of the problems that come with shifting to online, there are still some possible solutions that can make learning in Washington much safer. One of these is enforcing stricter consequences for not wearing masks. The students should get a warning and then serve time in detention if they don’t follow mask wearing rules. Another possible solution is to switch up the school schedule. There should be a 4 or even 3 day school week to limit the amount of time we spend learning on campus. This could lessen how much contact we may have with each other, therefore having a much greater chance of not contracting the virus. With all of the obstacles that schools have to go through to shut down in person school, they should start putting their students’ safety first and lessen the time students spend on campus and make less contact.