Why the High School Should Consider Returning Virtual

Why the High School Should Consider Returning Virtual

As many people know, COVID-19 has spread like wildfire across the nation, and is affecting many schools in the St.Louis community, including ourselves. Despite the health risks, many schools have decided to open up their schools to secure a better education, while also leaving it up to the students whether or not they want to attend virtual class, or in-person classes. It poses questions around whether in-person school is worth the risk and effort needed to continue this dual environment.

Hundreds of schools around the nation already closed due to a lack of staff in quarantine. It’s also no surprise that substitutes would be more and more unwilling to fill for a group of students he or she has no relationship with. As the number of cases in the high school increases, so will the likelihood of students being left without any teacher in the classroom. 

Although it has only been a couple of weeks since Ladue High School’s opening, it can be seen as a failure. There have already been over 100 students, and counting, that have been sent home due to contact tracing. And this number will only continue to rise.

One one hand, I agree with Ladue High School’s new policy that bans student traveling during seminars in order to keep contact tracing to a minimum. But on the flip side, this new policy only scrapes the tip of the iceberg. Each student will spend every passing period walking in between hundreds of students in multiple, highly compact areas. The school’s idea of making each hallway “one way”, does little to stop students from getting close to their friends and often touching people they know and don’t know. 

The reason why Ladue should universally change to virtual classes, is mostly because of a universal method of learning and teaching. In this new environment, teachers are forced to teach two different classes, and it often creates situations where many virtual learners feel ignored. To add on, academic integrity should be noted whilst coming to a solution. There’s no doubt that virtual learners have an advantage over in-person learners because they have all of their resources around them. This could lead to disproportionate scores as in-person learners have no choice but to memorize all that they learn.

But another point to consider is that all students should be able to learn in the same environment as one another. The reason why many students, including myself, have decided to go in-person, is that the school creates a great learning environment. The ability to focus, learn and understand material skyrockets once a student feels they are not alone. The fact that many virtual learners have no access to this learning environment, means that the school could be putting certain students at a disadvantage. A student’s underlying health issues or concerns should not put them at a disadvantage compared to everyone else in the building.

In general, the safety of the students should be the number one priority for Ladue High School. But the importance of student environment should not be ignored while making such a decision. The school board should strongly consider going back to virtual learning, whether because of the concern of the safety of students, or because of the learning environment. It feels inevitable that there will come a time when a large number of students become quarantined. When the situation becomes worse, the schools should be prepared with messages that will inevitably send the students virtual until further notice. And until then, preparation is key.