Opinions on Back to School

Dear CNUSD workers, students, and parents,

With the current talk of CNUSD secondary schools going back to an in-person hybrid schedule, there has been a difference of opinions on our return. While students are the main concern in all school districts, it seems as though the student’s opinions on this topic are not fully being heard. We have written this letter in order to express our view and beliefs on what we hope to be our safe return.

Most of the controversy about returning back to in-person learning comes with the schedule. Although the schedule might be what the district thinks is best for getting students back in person the quickest, it may not be the best option for families with differing schedules. Having four different cohorts creates contradicting schedules for students and parents alike, meaning that a parent/guardian’s schedule might need to change in order to better accommodate their student. While this might not seem like that big of a deal, families with parents/guardians that work with part-time jobs, or teach, may have to completely rearrange their lives and risk losing their jobs so that their kid isn’t stuck in school after hours.

For students with jobs, having these different cohorts makes it more difficult to remain within their professional working atmosphere. They may have to rearrange their schedule, much like their parents/guardians, or ask for time off. This could lead to a bad reputation between student workers and employers, which in the end could lead back to unemployment. This could not only halt a source of income in some families, but it could also affect their resume and their ability to be hired by another employer.

With the current schedule how it is, we only have two days of learning with teachers, the rest of the time being made for ‘independent learning’. While we understand that this was used to make sure that all cohorts can go to school in a week, it brings up a lot of concerns. First of all, we are practically teaching ourselves, as the amount of learning time in person is not the same as that of independent learning. Instead of learning topics from people who have the credentials to teach this topic, we are having to teach ourselves these topics, something that can be both confusing and harmful. Furthermore, for students with accelerated classes, such as AP, it puts a damper on the subjects they can learn at one time, which may cause them to not have the criteria needed to take the final exam.

It wouldn’t just be the schedule of families or the amount of learning that would be affected, but grades as well. Students who need time to adjust to a new schedule would not have the time needed in order to do so, which might cause their grades to slip. Students who are comfortable with the schedule as it is now will also be harmed by this new schedule. It would cause them to do at least twice the amount of work than normal, which may cause them to not be able to turn in the assignments that they need to do. This would once again, cause their grades to slip.

Teenagers are known to be social. With our already virtual schedule, we are holding onto a very fragile social life. Changing our schedule now will only decrease our social lives even further. With the fact that our cohorts are going to be small, and our peers may be in separate cohorts than ourselves, we may not have any time to socialize at all, if you think about both the morning and afternoon classes, office hours, and 85 minutes of independent learning on days in which we don’t have classes. Students will be swarmed trying to juggle and teach themselves the topics they need to know for their classes in the 8-9 short weeks that we have left of school. There will be no time for social interaction if we continue down this path.

Another point relating to the previous paragraph is that with all of the time spent trying to get the most out of our education, we will be sacrificing our own downtime/after-school activities. With the schedule we have now, we know exactly what to expect, and because of the learning done in class, are able to do the things we want in order to sustain our own interests.  When using this schedule and having students teach themselves most of their subjects, you are taking away the time they would need to build their own interests and opinions. Furthermore, you are taking away time that could be used to help a student’s mental health. Instead of spending time for our own benefit, we would study for a topic we barely even learned, and then turn around and start learning something completely new.

Students, especially those that are taking more accelerated classes, are being particularly stressed out by the amount of learning taking place. This stress will only increase tenfold the less time they have to actually learn the subjects needed for adulthood. With this added stress, there is more likely to be less time to focus on mental health, and therefore a decrease in the positive mental mindset of students. With this more negative mindset, students might become more closed off, and more likely to allow themselves to get hurt. Even with teachers that try to be more mindful of a student’s mental health, with the way this new schedule is now, there won’t be any time for these breaks to occur, not to mention that not every student has a teacher that tries to make this effort.

Without even continuing on the topic of mental health, there is still the pressing issue of student safety. Students may not wish, or not be able to go back, because of concerns of their parents/guardians, or for concerns regarding transferring the COVID-19 virus. And without mandating the COVID vaccine for all students, there might be a chance that an outbreak could occur, and students would be carriers for the virus. This could lead to their families getting infected, or even a larger outbreak across Riverside County once again. Although the cohorts break students into smaller groups, the risk is still there and would continue to be present unless we would be able to make sure that all students, staff, and faculty, are protected from the virus.

In conclusion, this new schedule would not be good for the secondary schools of CNUSD. During these uncertain times, it is better to stay safe indoors with a schedule that works, than try and brave something new that could lead to disastrous consequences. We implore that all of CNUSD rethink the option of letting secondary schools go back, and instead favor the option to continue the final few weeks of this semester online.

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