Magazine Opinions Volume 70, Issue 7

The Gamble Between Education and Comfort

By Riley Martin 

Graphic By Jackie Veliz

COVID-19 has developed mixed-emotions on most things in our once “normal” day-to-day lives. One key element we see this in currently is education. In-person school can be difficult enough for many students, and this level of difficulty has only heightened with all-Zoom school. 

Many of our own high school students have felt this effect on themselves and inevitably on their younger siblings. For this reason, some of our students are truly ecstatic about their siblings returning to school soon with the new hybrid schedule. 

I believe there are two vital parts about returning to school: the learning itself and the friends and social interaction. As for senior Lee Donohue, his is: “Relieved, as I believe that for all students, and especially for students [my sister’s] age (she’s in 7th grade), in-person instruction is crucial for development as a student. So I’m glad she made the decision to switch to hybrid.” While the seemingly better instruction is appealing, there is a greater importance for social interaction for some. Sophomore Izzy Kim-Brown said, “I’m glad he’s getting the interaction that he needs. He’s been in a better mood ever since he started going back. I’m kind of worried about him being exposed to COVID-19, but he needs to spend time with other kids his age.” Similarly, freshman Kaya Tong said, “I feel great that she is going back to school. I’m really happy for her.” 

On the contrary, even though the new hybrid schedule is inviting, many students do not feel comfortable with either themselves or their siblings going back to school. Junior Shealyn Hyde said, “I think it’s a good idea to stay at home, they go out and see their friends more than usual so they need to stay at home for less risk to our parents.” Feeling particularly strongly about the idea is senior Martin Valbuena: “Of course. We are in the middle of a pandemic and in the red zone, this is in no way a safe time to go back to school.” 

I see both points of view as agreeable, and both sides have a strong argument. This being said, I am a student who has siblings in Preschool, Kindergarten, and sixth grade, and this all played heavily towards this topic. My two youngest siblings – ages 3 and 5 – went back to school all the way in August. To say that I was worried about COVID-19 would be an understatement, even though I knew that in-person instruction was crucial for their development, just as Donohue said. Not to mention, little kids are oftentimes messy, and they don’t understand the importance of why they need to social distance or constantly wash their hands or even wear masks. Fortunately, my worries have not come full-circle, and they still go to in-person school three days a week and have been doing so for eight months now. 

My sibling in middle school, however, is not going back due to the chaoticness of the hybrid schedule. Though, I have noticed firsthand his lack of attention in school and the simple ability to just turn the camera off. Unfortunately, I know my younger brother isn’t the only one that does this. Many are doing it simply because they can; without in-person school or interaction, it can be much harder to focus and stay attentive. 

It isn’t the safest, no doubt, but the risk isn’t worth avoiding in terms of little siblings due to such crucial stages of their educational development. The risk will be there, and I think we need to adapt to it for the best results for them. Donohue added, ”There’s obviously a risk in bringing students back. But with the proper precautions in place, as they have with adopting a hybrid model to decrease the number of students at school at the same time, I think the risk is minimal.”

Simply put, freshman Keke Ruzicka said, “Instead of being at the same desk the whole day we actually will be able to move. Along with just being able to talk to other people.” On the surface level, this seems only about the possible social interactions, but truthfully education and interaction hold a symbiotic relationship that thrives when the other is thriving.