The Columbia Public Schools (CPS) Board of Education voted to return students to in in-person learning on a 5-2 decision Jan 11. Although students may opt to remain in virtual learning, elementary schools will begin a four-day in-person schedule, and secondary schools will transition to a hybrid, two-day schedule on Jan 19.
At RBHS, the two-day hybrid program divides students into two groups based on last name, A-K and L-Z, in order to maintain a physical distance of at least three feet between students. Group 1 will receive in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday, and Group 2 will receive instruction on Thursday and Friday. Staff expects students to use Schoology and Zoom to attend class and learn from home on days they are not in-person, though Wednesday remains an asynchronous learning day. RBHS principal Jacob Sirna shared an email with students and parents outlining the basics of the hybrid plan and logistics Jan 11.
What are your thoughts on returning to in-person learning?
Charlotte Tolly, senior
“I think what the school board did was unequivocally wrong here. Now, I understand a lot of parents and students are under more stress and the pressure to go back in seat is high, but that doesn’t make what happened right. The choice wasn’t based on evidence or even a real desire to keep kids and teachers healthy, it was based on emotions. There are so many problems with this I don’t know where to begin. Students have been learning and to spring this on such short notice is unfair to everyone. I don’t feel like the pandemic is being treated seriously enough, and a lot of people will get sick from this.”
Anthony Wu, junior
“To be honest, I am extremely disappointed with the school’s decision for hybrid learning. This year was an absolute mess in terms of the decisions that were made by CPS authority, and I understand that CPS and all school districts have been put into a precarious situation this year. Goodness there are so many moving parts to making education work during COVID-19 times that I don’t think it’s possible to come up with a perfect solution. But as a student, I can’t help but feel that every decision that was made was made with the intent to make life as hard for students as possible. This past semester I have been in four AP classes, all going at double speed, and it’s just horrible. I’ve never been more unhappy with my academics than this year. It’s so mentally exhausting to keep on track with schoolwork every single day, but any time I dare have the audacity to take a break and fall a little bit behind, the punishment is a tsunami of work so high that it’s utterly impossible to get out of. Anyways, regarding the decision made yesterday, over winter break my family and I contracted COVID-19. My mom worked at the COVID-19 testing places, so it was only a matter of time before she caught it. And because of it, my dad had to be hospitalized. Thankfully, he’s fine now. He recovered, but it’s not a stress that is particularly fun to have. I’m just worried that this already exhausting workload that we have coupled with the stress of contracting the virus will make for an absolutely unbelievable semester for students who are unfortunate enough to have a workload like mine.”
Claire Li, sophomore
“I personally chose to stay virtual for this year. Mostly because of the COVID-19 virus that has affected various aspects of my life and others. My thoughts on classes returning into an in-person hybrid next week [are] not very optimistic. I know many would benefit from returning in-person, and many are eager to be in class rather [than] just staring at the screen all day. I also wish those aspects of being in-seat again, but I feel like current plans of going hybrid in RBHS right now is too early. COVID-19 cases have not at all gone down in Boone county, and due to the sheer population of Rock Bridge, it wouldn’t be easy to implement effective social distancing and other measures of prevention. I am quite worried about classes returning to in-person hybrid as I believe there will no doubt be a COVID-19 case running through RBHS if this plan goes into effect.
On the plus side of being virtual, there is much more flexibility in my learning, and all my learning materials are stored neatly in Schoology making access to materials much easier. I also don’t have to worry about missing a day since Zooms are recorded. And unlike other people, I don’t feel like I have missed valuable social interactions as my interactions between my family have become much more valuable and joyful. In fact, through these precious times with my family, I feel like I have become much happier and joyful and learned much about myself.”
Andrew Romitti, freshman
“I am really indifferent about going in-person, since while I am fine with going in person for the most part, I was just getting comfortable with online, and now it is such a sudden change. But the biggest thing I don’t like is the hybrid system because while the biggest appeal of in-person was to meet with my friends again, that is invalid because I don’t get to see a lot of my friends because of the half and half system. So while I am mostly fine with going back in person, there are definitely some flaws, but I’ll have to see what happens and I’m still excited to go.”
What are your thoughts on CPS’s return to hybrid in-person learning? Let us know in the comments below.