By Mehak Garg
In March, many referred to the global situation of social-distancing protocols, masks, and quarantining as “the new normal.” Schools were scrambling to put together online instruction, working parents were grappling with child care, and everyone was uncertain about what the next few months would look like. Now, as we reflect on the past seven months, our situation has become “normal.” Spending our whole day on Zoom is no longer new and leaving our house with a mask just as we would with our car keys is no longer a novel idea.
Going back to school this fall warranted a more developed plan for what online instruction would look like and Milpitas High School delivered on that. However, before we disrupt our “normal,” we need to consider what in-person instruction looks like.
Before allowing the entire student body to return, Milpitas High School should allow students who are struggling to learn in an online environment and need in-person instruction to return. Having a small percentage of students enter campus in comparison to over 3,000 students will allow administrators to see what improvements that might need to be made and what’s already going well. In regards to faculty, teachers who are more at risk of contracting COVID (older individuals or teachers with preexisting conditions) should continue to stay home.
I think when the county decides that it’s okay for students to return, Milpitas High School should give all students the opportunity to come back although online learning should still be available at that point for those who have an increased risk of acquiring COVID to ensure everyone’s safety. At school, lunch tables and seating areas should be sectioned off to ensure social distancing and students should wipe down desks before leaving for their next class.
Additionally, desks in classrooms should be spaced out and class sizes should be reduced which can be achieved by separating students by first or last name to certify fewer students are on campus at one time.
I’d love to go back in-person second semester but only when it’s safe for all students and faculty.
By Matthew Nguyen
First and foremost, I believe that a return to in-person education at Milpitas High this school year will be improbable and not a smart decision. While there is much to gain from in-person teaching, there are many more downsides and risks. The argument for going back to in-person school is that students will learn more and will be more engaged in class. There are more advantages like socializing with other students and getting out of the house, but for the most part this is the main argument to go back to in-person education.
However, the Milpitas Unified School District has done a tremendous job by implementing the distance learning system. At least in my opinion, I am still learning a lot during school. Yes, there are more distractions at home and less peer assistance, but at the end of the day, the learning experience is dictated by the student. Students make the decision to either actively participate in Zoom class and stay focused or doze off. One can even argue that going back to school and seeing your friends may serve as an even greater distraction from actual education. There is just so much to lose if we go back to school, for all parties involved. Remember that Milpitas High alone has over 3,000 students. The crowded campus will make the risk of contracting the coronavirus very high. And although students might be young enough to fight off the virus, the older members of their family will not fare as well in such a fight.
However, in the case that the decision is made that we go back to in-person school, I have some suggestions. The obvious first step in my opinion is to put students back into classes extremely slowly. The students going back should not have any relatives at home who are in bad physical condition or are over a certain age. Depending on the results of the first set of students, you can start trickling in more starting by graduation year. First, the seniors can go, then the juniors, and so on. Every desk should have a surrounding plastic screen as well as be 6-feet apart. Temperature checks should be taken before and after class. The mingling around during the passing period should be kept to a minimum. This means that people must be socially distanced during breaks as well.
Overall, is going back to in-person learning really enough to justify taking all these measures? In my opinion, no, it is not. To reiterate my point, going back to school is not a smart move especially considering the great job EducatEveryWhere has been doing.
By Emma Whitmer
COVID-19 has brought many changes to our lives, and the closure of schools is one of the most impactful. While it seemed like students would be going back to school at the start of the new school year, we are still learning online. In September, I was ecstatic to find out that schools could start reopening in our county, but our district has not yet given us a date on when our schools will open. I understand that MUSD can't rush this process, but I find myself growing tired along with many other students.
Online learning is challenging everyone in every aspect. We have to deal with loud noises, loss of motivation, and isolation from a standard classroom environment. I wake up to go to classes that are almost two hours long while I hear loud noises echoing throughout the house. It’s hard to focus, especially when taking assessments, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to stay on task. I’ve noticed a lot of my peers have mentioned they aren’t as motivated because online learning sticks us into a tiresome schedule of listening to long lectures. The flavor that socialization brought to an otherwise dull school day is now gone.
I'm no expert on proper COVID-19 safety protocol, but I do have some suggestions on the reopening of schools. To start, I think students should wear masks and practice social distancing if we were to return to school. Masks control the spread of the virus, so I think they are vital for reopening campuses. The district could send out surveys, asking if they have had any exposure to the virus or if they have any concerns. Also, temperatures can be taken by teachers to ensure no one is sick. People who want to stay home and people who are more susceptible to the virus can continue learning online. Overall, I believe that the return to school can be safe should the proper measures be taken.
By Cody Lejang
It is inevitable that students will have to return to in-person learning. The combination of lockdown, in addition to the increased workload stemming from distance learning, has been detrimental to many students. Students have increased anxiety because they are not able to interact with their peers in person. Teachers have had to come up with impromptu methods of administering tests and assessments. More specifically, lab science teachers have had the hardest task of figuring out a way to do labs virtually. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the school administration figures out how to transition students back into hybrid and potentially in-person learning.
However, for this to occur, safety precautions must be taken. For example, a mask requirement, daily temperature screenings, regular sanitation, and social distancing mandates are paramount methods of preventing and reducing the spread of COVID. Most importantly, the enforcement of these regulations must be strict and efficient, in order to ensure the safety of MHS’s students and staff. Students, along with their parents, should closely observe, obey, and understand the safety protocols.
A potential problem that arises when transitioning back to in-person learning is the difference in workload and pace. Relatively speaking, students will be entering a more lecture-heavy environment, in comparison to the previously workload-heavy environment of distance learning. Several dilemmas can stem from this: students may lack motivation in the classroom, experience an increase in stress, or simply fall behind in the curriculum. As a result, tutoring and/or student mentor programs need to be created in order to help students that are struggling to switch gears from distance to in person learning.
Additionally, this can be an opportunity for students who are excelling academically to help others, in exchange for community service hours. Ultimately, reopening school will only yield positive outcomes, as long as students and staff comprehensively follow the necessary safety procedures. There needs to be a mutual respect and understanding of the enforced guidelines and the severity of the consequences.