Akash’s COVID Corner: Returning to School



There’s a lot of talk about returning to in-person learning, but is it the best decision?

On March 12th, BVSD decided that it was best for the health of the students and staff to switch to online schooling after a CU staff member tested positive and the spread of the virus within Boulder County rapidly increased. Nobody knew how long it would be before we went back to in-person learning. Initial estimates were only about a month or two. A month came and went, and so did the remainder of the school year. The new question became whether or not we would go back in 2020, and at what point would it be worth the risk. A plan was devised to slowly provide more and more in-person learning opportunities in a recent district meeting, starting with younger kids and those who require special needs-specific teaching. However, while in-person learning provides opportunities that online learning cannot, I don’t think it should be rushed into.

When the pandemic started, we had relatively limited knowledge about COVID-19 and so it was hard to know what measures would help and what measures would not. Since then, our knowledge of the virus has expanded, and we now know that it spreads best through the air, not so well through surfaces. This means we can do things like have students wear masks and maintain social distancing. While ways such as these can help prevent COVID-19 from spreading, they’re hard to do consistently, especially given the large Boulder High population. It would be difficult to regulate mask-wearing during lunch, and the lunchroom is not big enough for full social distancing. If one student has the virus, all it takes is one slight slip in regulations for them to pass it to another student–and from there, it can start to spread faster and faster. Even though only a quarter of the school will be in attendance every day, that’s still over 500 kids at risk. If one student tests positive, everybody who could have come into contact with them will be required to quarantine for two weeks, even if they haven’t passed it to anybody else.

Teachers, as well as students, would face difficulties imposed by in-person learning. Attempting to teach some students in real life while also trying to teach those online would be a significant challenge and would worsen the learning environment for those learning remotely. Trying to answer students’ questions from both the online meet and in-person would be a nightmare and way too complicated for teachers. In addition, teachers would only see each student once per week in the classroom. There would be a minimal benefit for the high amount of risk and hassle that everybody would have to endure. The consequences of even one student contracting COVID-19 are great and affect not only students but also their families. The logistics of a two-week quarantine period would be complicated, and many families may not have the resources to handle this challenge adequately. Going back for only one day a week would be pointless and wouldn’t provide the benefits that regular in-person learning would. District officials should re-analyze this decision, as it will put hundreds–if not thousands–of people at serious risk.

Overall, I don’t think it’s a good idea to go back to in-person learning, as the risks and complications would outweigh the benefits for both teachers and students. While learning online has its difficulties, all it takes is one slip-up by a student or staff member and there could be a serious outbreak. It would hurt the learning experiences of those who are learning online by favoring those in person. When the time is right, a full return to in-person learning would be the best for everybody, but now is not the time.