July 10, 2020 / Source: The Bizz USA
By Haarika Kalahasti
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, students’ education has significantly been disrupted. Students across the globe began distance (online) learning in April, and unfortunately, it seems as if things will continue like this for a while. Students will not get the opportunity to not only meet their teachers but also interact with their peers and miss out on social interaction. Besides, with online learning, not everyone will get the same learning opportunities. Some students may be financially disadvantaged, leaving them with little to none opportunities to engage in distance learning. It is truly not what the world intended ever to do, but some learning is better than no learning.
The school year has ended for many parts of the country, which allows many counties to debrief and see what strategies would be the best for the upcoming school year. Some schools have offered students and families choices from 100% distance learning, hybrid schedule (2 days in-person learning and three days of distance learning at home), or classroom learning. Either way, these strategies are not what we all want: we want to travel back in time and live our regular lives. However, we must first take into consideration the students’ health and safety.
Online learning may ensure that students’ will be safe and healthy, but it will take a toll on their social ability and overall learning. With online learning, students’ will not have the same easy access to teachers in the classroom. If they have questions, they will probably have to reach them through email, but there is no guarantee that the teacher will reply or see the email. Also, screentime is another issue; it is not healthy for children, or anyone, to be in front of computers for countless hours.
On the other hand, hybrid learning will allow students to interact with their teachers and peers, but may not be in the best interest for students’ health. We have limited information on the precautions that will be taken at schools, but students will most likely be required to wear gloves and masks, maintain a six-foot distance, carry hand sanitizer at all times, and wash hands very often. In conclusion, the tradeoff between health & safety and student learning is a callous decision.
Classroom learning is what we all want, but it is, without a doubt, the most unsafe option. With the current situation and COVID-19 cases increasing again, we are not sure of the conditions for August and September--when school opens. This type of learning would ensure the best learning opportunities and allows students’ to be in touch with teachers more often than the other methods; however, students’ health would be at risk. If one chooses to go to school full time, then he or she must make sure that they take necessary precautions, including six feet of social distance, wearing masks and gloves, carrying hand sanitizer, and washing their hands often.