Students Have Concerns Returning To Campus
• Many students have mixed feelings about returning to campus – being around people and having a set schedule again.
After seven months of not stepping foot onto their school campuses due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many students fear that the difficulties of swiftly adjusting to a normal routine again will far outweigh any positives of a hybrid school model.
As announced by Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, all District schools will be adhering to the reopening policies outlined by the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s outlined reopening plans call for a Los Angeles County daily case rate that is lower than seven new cases per 100,000 for schools to begin the reopening process. Yet, as of Oct. 6, this number was still hovering right above seven, at 7.4 cases.
Palos Verdes Peninsula High School announced on Oct. 1 that the school and other District schools have begun allowing voluntary athletic training sessions to take place with the approval of the County of Los Angeles Public Health’s Protocols for Youth Sports Leagues, as long as additional safety protocols are met, such as daily COVID-19 screenings.
With the number of COVID-19 cases decreasing and hybrid schooling on the near horizon, students such as Peninsula senior Ananya Chaudhari believe the restrictive nature of attending in-person classes will limit students’ abilities to continue developing independent routines, as they have had the opportunity to do during distanced learning.
“I personally have no desire to return back to school, as I developed my own unique schedule and have enjoyed newfound freedom during quarantine,” Chaudhari said.
“Transitioning from this type of flexible online learning schedule to a similar independence in college is a much more logical transition than going to college after experiencing a six to seven hour in-person school day,” she said. “If students ever do return to campus, many will be unhappy and stressed about all aspects of school other than being able to see their friends more regularly.”
Despite the attractiveness and general ease that is often associated with second semester senior year, Chaudhari believes that senior students will have to spend additional time adjusting to a new schooling system, this includes catching up on curriculum that may have not been covered as thoroughly during distanced learning, rather than relaxing and enjoying their final months in high school as a senior would in a normal school year.
Especially as a Peninsula student, the PVPUSD hybrid model for secondary schools will offer a completely new style of taking classes; it outlines a block schedule for transitioning back to in-person learning, whereas Peninsula usually follows a traditional bell schedule. The hybrid schedule requires students to have less consecutive classes per day, with each class lasting for a longer period of time.
Chaudhari and others are wary of the changes in homework and time management that this system will bring, specifically for schools who currently use a traditional bell schedule.
“I have a feeling that second semester senior year will not be as laid back as we all thought it would be,” Chaudhari said. “It might be because of my personal work load, but most of the people I know are more stressed out than they have ever been as well. Being back at school would not make this any easier either, as we would have double the amount of time in each class per day and likely more homework each night to compensate for block scheduling.”
Not only has online learning allowed students to establish a stronger sense of individuality and organizational skills, but students such as Peninsula senior Paulina Garmute have also taken advantage of the increased time for self-care.
Garmute worries that a hybrid schedule with more time allotted to asynchronous, or independent learning will not provide students with the teacher interaction that is necessary for grasping subject material.
“Transitioning to a hybrid learning model would almost certainly make schooling significantly more stressful, whereas the fully online environment includes later start times and increased versatility which allows me to get more sleep,” Garmute said.
“Most likely, students will still be learning online for the majority of the time during hybrid learning, yet taking tests and other large assessments in-person. This is unfair, as online learning presents new obstacles which makes material take longer to comprehend; thus, in-person hybrid schooling would be harder to manage with more testing and less project-based materials.”
There is also concern among many students as to how school administrators and faculty will enforce the County’s public health regulations. While faculty can monitor the behavior of students inside of the classroom, it may be more difficult to mandate safety requirements outside of school hours.
With so many sporting events being moved to the spring and an influx of school activities, the attraction of larger crowds to second-semester functions may drastically impact administration’s ability to reprimand individual students for not following safety guidelines.
Many of the regulations for reopening outlined by the county have become politicized as well, such as wearing masks. There is no telling if some students will fully abide by rules that may contradict their political outlooks or personal beliefs.
Peninsula junior Keila Bara finds these aspects of reopening especially concerning, and questions the likelihood of safety precautions being followed by all of her peers. However, she does hope to see some return to normality in anticipation of her senior year.
“Having large school activities is reckless, and as much as I enjoy participating in activities, the health of everyone should always be a priority,” Bara said.
“Spending time away from school and not having as much social interaction has given me a new sense of independence that I feel has been so important for my self-growth and is a good quality to develop for the future. However, if proper safety precautions are followed, going back to school will ultimately allow for the ‘typical’ high school experience we all miss and want to have again,” Bars said.