Students and staff ponder returning to in-person learning

In+order+to+return+to+in-person+learning%2C+many+believe+the+benefits+must+outweigh+the+risks.

Maya Brazil

In order to return to in-person learning, many believe the benefits must outweigh the risks.

The Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) announced on Feb. 24 that in-person instruction may resume, starting April 5, 2021. The decision came several hours after San Mateo County moved into the Red Tier.

Now, students, families, teachers, and staff are deciding whether they feel ready to return to school.

A significant factor determining the possibility of returning to school is vaccination progress. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 68 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far. Dr. Tyler Kochel, a biotechnology teacher at Carlmont, expressed his opinion on vaccination and whether it should be required to be on campus.

I would prefer to get vaccinated before returning to in-person school. Fortunately, educators are getting vaccines now. We’d still need to wear masks, use shields, and keep distance,” Kochel said. “While having all students vaccinated would be great, I do not think it is necessary to have 100% vaccinated. Herd immunity should kick in at high vaccination percentages, but it is unknown what that threshold is at this point.”

Sophomore Michelle Meskin had a similar perspective.

“I do feel comfortable returning to school without a vaccine because everyone in my home has already been vaccinated so I know they are safe,” Meskin said. “I would say that people who have family members who are more susceptible should wait [to return to school] till they are vaccinated… Also, if a student has any health problems, they should either wait to be vaccinated before returning or just remain online, just in case a breakout occurs.”

In contrast, a SUHSD staff member*, who asked to remain anonymous, felt a different level of comfort when it came to coming back to school.

“I would prefer to wait until all students and all staff has been vaccinated before we return [to school],” the staff member said. 

Another challenge regarding in-person learning is that not everyone may feel comfortable or be allowed to return. As a result,  teachers and students will likely still be using Zoom, even in-person. 

“I do not think we should return to in-person learning if we will still be using Zoom. It’s already hard enough to hear and be understood on Zoom. How will teachers and students make themselves heard and understood while wearing double masks?” a SUHSD staff member said.

Kochel described a positive perspective on in-person instruction.

“With some students in the classroom and all students using Zoom, there will be some benefits. In-person students will still need to wear masks and socially distance, but it will be easier to ask questions, and it will be nice to see students’ faces,” Kochel said.

Meskin shared her final thoughts on the topic.

“I don’t want there to be an outbreak because we really don’t know how safe some people are. Some could be traveling, not taking COVID-19 seriously, or just have no regard for others,” Meskin said. “Don’t get me wrong, I want to go back to school, but I don’t want to put people’s lives at risk; you don’t know if someone lives with an elder or someone more susceptible.”

*This source preferred to be left anonymous in accordance with Carlmont Media’s anonymous sourcing policy.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email