As Positive COVID Cases Continue To Rise, Talk of Returning To Virtual School Has Become Prominent
The debate about the effectiveness and safety of virtual school in comparison to that of in-person learning is a hot global topic at present, but what do the students of Centennial High School think about it?
The COVID-19 virus has plagued the world since late 2019, but with the introduction of vaccines and the diminishing COVID-19 cases in mid-2021, people across the globe began dreaming about returning to normal life. In some ways, this dream seemed like it could become reality. As the saying goes, however, all good things come to an end, and the end has certainly come with the virus’ recent mutation, the Omicron variant. This past December, COVID-19 cases increased dramatically across the country, due to a combination of Omicron’s ability to spread more fluently and many traveling across the country to visit family and friends for the holidays. To combat this issue, several counties have turned to virtual schooling to provide education to students amidst the current conditions. As a result of this trend, many students are wondering if Howard County will take similar steps in reentering the virtual scene, especially with county officials sending out surveys about what technology families have readily available in case the school switched to virtual learning.
Despite the danger the virus poses to students’ health, the prospect of virtual learning has sparked fierce controversy among students since learning and socializing seem to sharply decline in a virtual environment. Many students depend on the support of their friends to make it through the year, and without that interaction, school becomes rather dull. This is the general virtual learning problem, but what do the students of Centennial High School think about the predicament?
“I think that we should go back to online school,” stated Centennial sophomore Ben Klein. “Only because of how severe the outbreak of the new Covid strain is.” Klein brings a cautious approach to returning to virtual school, one that many students at Centennial share. Most students would only want to return to virtual school for a short period because of the socialization they will miss out on, but Klein thinks “we should go back online until it calms down,” not naming a period of a week or two like many other students who believe a short break is all that’s needed to slow the spread in schools for the time being.
Centennial junior Lewis Huynh claimed, “I think that long-term virtual causes more harm than good, but I think that a break from in-person will be beneficial for both COVID and non-COVID reasons. A virtual two week quarantine will both give time for those who have COVID to recover and give time and space to those who are concerned for their safety and others around them.” He takes the neutral and most common position in this whole debacle, considering a solution to satisfy both sides of the argument.
Some students simply want to return to virtual school for the perks that it brought, including waking up much later and having asynchronous Wednesdays. “We’ve gotta wake up early in the morning, and do things we don’t wanna do,” proclaimed a passionate Centennial sophomore, Fortune Teke. “We should be able to enjoy our homes while we work.”
Even if there were some dips in students’ learning experiences and drastic drops in socialization time, the virtual learning environment allowed students to relax while working, be studious at their own pace, and maybe even take a Netflix or PlayStation break every once in a while. They could even grab a snack while working!
Even taking all of the perks of virtual school into account, there are some students who would much rather learn in the school building, including Centennial sophomores Evan Kim and Anurag Sodhi.
“I would say that virtual learning is no substitute for physical interaction,” began Kim, “and hands-on learning, which most students need to succeed, cannot be amply provided in the virtual classroom. The support teachers can provide in-person is a far cry from the relative inaccessibility to teachers over email.”
Sodhi, clearly sharing the same sentiment, claimed, “I would not want to return to virtual school due to the interactions you can experience in the in-person classroom.”
Despite not desiring a return to virtual schooling, “it is still impossible to ignore the dire situation of the world,” Kim defended. “We should probably return to virtual school for a short period if it will benefit the health of the student body.”
“If action isn’t taken at the school level to combat the pandemic, then we might be stuck with the virus much longer,” added Sodhi.
The tragedy of the world’s current situation is too important to dismiss, even for those who would rather stay in the school building. The majority of Centennial students seem to think that returning to virtual school, at least for a couple of weeks, is the best option to minimize the pandemic’s effect on the student body. Kim reflected, “Right now, this is the best way to preserve and protect the health of the student body.”
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