Julia Quigley offers a student view on returning to full capacity in-person learning in Loveland Schools

By Julia Quigley, LHS Senior, Student Reporter

LOVELAND, OH (October 10, 2020) – Last week, I wrote about the Board of Education’s decision for Loveland Schools to return to a full-capacity, 5-day week schedule.

Julia Quigley, LHS senior, student reporter (Provided)

Originally, the switch was supposed to start this week for Pre-K-4th grades, on October 12th for grades 5-8, and on October 26th for the High School. The administration temporarily delayed these target dates last week, but has just confirmed that Pre-K-8th grades will be returning to a full-capacity schedule on October 12th and high school students on October 26th.

I personally, as well as many of my friends and peers, believe going back to school full-capacity would not be a smart decision for many reasons, one of those being the rate of sickness within our area. Hamilton County is currently in the “red zone” for Covid-19, which is identified as a “public emergency with very high exposure and spread.” (Editor’s note: Clermont County was upgraded from “red zone” to “orange zone” status Thursday, October 8,)

If schools return to a full schedule at this time, with the way things are going, it’s most likely not going to be safe for students or staff. Just because cases in the area may suddenly decrease, numbers can still fluctuate. In a school filled with over a thousand students – like Loveland High School – it’s possible those numbers could dramatically increase. The schools have taken considerable precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus, from socially-distanced desks to required face masks for students and teachers, but with double the number of students in the building, those precautions could become less effective in maintaining the spread of illness. I would not want to get Covid-19 because there were too many kids crammed in one classroom, and the person in the desk next to mine happened to cough on me.

Coming from a student’s perspective, I feel as though we shouldn’t have to make the decision whether or not to jeopardize our high school experience in order to be safe and healthy. I want to enjoy my final year of high school before going off to college. I wish the same for my fellow classmates. I want us to have after-school clubs, extracurriculars, and formal dances. I feel, if we are to adopt a full-capacity schedule, we should find ways to make those other activities possible. However, I also know that would be highly unlikely. It would be much harder to control sickness in those kinds of social environments, versus a blended school day where there are stricter regulations.

Some students and families have chosen to do fully remote learning, whether for health reasons or other reasons, but being remote can feel isolating for students who are not able to see friends and fellow classmates in person. I understand the blended schedule has been somewhat difficult for teachers, since teaching both an online and in-person class at the same time can be a lot to manage. I’ve heard plenty of teachers say it would be simpler for them just to have one classroom to teach. Going to school in-person – even if it’s just for a few days a week – is a way for students to feel like things are somewhat normal during this very abnormal time. Many classmates I know enjoy the new blended schedule. Having a day in between school days at home is a great way to get extra sleep in the morning while also being able to partake in remote learning in a more relaxed environment. As a student, I know from personal experience having a day at home in between school to get an extra hour or two of sleep has helped give me the extra burst of energy I need to perform well academically. Having school in-person the next day is also a great way to maintain a regular school schedule. As a senior, in particular, I want to be able to attend school in-person, and the blended model provides that to some extent.

The Board of Education’s goal for this year at Loveland is for students to return to a 5-day week schedule, once it’s okay to do so in terms of health and safety. A scary truth is, pandemics can last years. The full-capacity model poses real health and safety risks, both to students as well as teachers. Although education should be prioritized, safety and well-being should be prioritized just as much, especially during this time. As of right now, the blended schedule is the best way to make both equal priorities, and the best way for students to have both safety and a sufficient school life.

Julia Quigley is a senior at Loveland High School and regular contributing student reporter for Loveland Beacon online news.

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