Investigation: Should schools be in full remote learning right now? (Part 1)

Part 1: Students reflect on coronavirus’s effect on their school years, their comfort levels with attending school in person


Photo by Julia Ehlers

This graph is a compilation of the statistics about confirmed positive Covid-19 cases from East High School as well as the LPS website. The considerable increase of these numbers over time in schools has made any number of people wonder: Should schools be in full time remote learning right now? (Updated through December 3, 2020)

Should students throughout the LPS district be in full time remote learning right now? It’s a subject of great contention and speculation among students, staff, parents, and administrators alike, and no one really seems to have an answer. It depends on who you talk to, so in the first part of a four part investigative series, we’ll talk to three different students – one who’s had covid, one who’s full time in person, and one who’s full time remote – to get their perspectives on the matter.
Ryan Clementi, a junior at East, has already had Covid-19. As far as going to full time remote learning, he doesn’t believe it’s necessary in the current situation, and his experience with Covid-19 has supported that. In his case, Covid-19 was just like the flu – it was “kind of a come and go thing for me, so I haven’t really been too worried about it.”
“In my opinion, Covid-19 wasn’t really that bad, but I see where they’re coming from, with keeping people that are prone to it safe, like older people or people with underlying conditions,” Clementi said. “So I do understand both sides of the point. But I still believe that we should be either half and half, or full in school.”
On the other hand, a full time remote student, who has asked to be kept anonymous in this article for privacy reasons, believes that 100% zoom learning should be required in the situation we’re in with the numbers of cases and positivity rates going up every day. (This source will be referenced as Student Z as the article continues.)
“The entire midwest is already in uncontrolled spread, and the less we do to stop it now, the longer everyone suffers from the pandemic,” they said. “Not to sound selfish, but as a senior I am already being robbed of my formative years of independence by being forced to quarantine, and I want to stop just like everyone else does. We end this by wearing masks and socially distancing and keeping up hygiene until a vaccine is available, whenever that may be.”
Isaac Nabb, a senior and full time in person student at East, falls somewhere between these other two perspectives. Like the majority of students, remote learning is quite the challenge for him, especially when it comes to focusing on classes.
“Honestly, part of me really wants to say yes [we should be in full time remote],” Nabb said. “But in the best interest of the long game and everybody’s education, I do not believe that we should be full remote because there’s just so many kids already that are failing and lots of people are behind.”
Regardless of their differing perspectives, all three agree that if students at East or throughout LPS do go to full remote learning at some point, either before the end of the semester or sometime during the second semester, it will be an adjustment and a challenge for everyone involved.
“…When you’re at your house, you have access to all the stuff that you have at home, like you can be on your phone whenever you want,” Clementi said. “Obviously you shouldn’t, but it’s there and it’s a temptation. … It’s just tough to learn at home. I’m used to like my whole life being in school learning, so this is just a really big change to learning on Zoom.”
As someone with experience in full remote learning, Student Z also offered some advice to anyone struggling currently, or who might have difficulty in the future.
“Personally, dividing up my living space has helped considerably,” Student Z said. “A designated ‘work area’ and a dedicated ‘leisure area’ do help keep one in the right mindset when relevant. Also my reminders app has been working overtime as of late.”
To any of those individuals involved in the decision making process when it comes to Covid-19 and schools, these students would ask that you keep them in mind.
“I feel like they should even ask our opinions, because they’re making decisions without even consulting us,” Nabb said. “They’re consulting our parents, sure, but our parents aren’t us. They’re not here all the time and so I think keeping in mind what would be best for us later in life and not in just the next six months.”
“… I’m sure everyone’s got the best intentions already and no amount of “be careful” on my part is going to meaningfully help,” Student Z said. “It’s a lose/lose situation and all we can do now is mitigate damage. I’m doing my part by staying home and not contributing to spread, they’re doing theirs with whatever else.”
To that last point, it is important to remember that, as cheesy as it sounds, everyone is in this together, and everyone is doing the best they can at the moment. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to have a conversation, and stay tuned for staff and administrative perspectives to come.