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Solitary Confinement: Why We Need to Go Back to School ASAP | Liam Rosenburg

Teaching is a risky job. Just ask any educator. They all know what they are getting themselves into once receiving their bachelor’s degree. In a classroom full of students with unpredictable scenarios, a teacher always has to be quick-thinking, resilient, and most of all, calm and collected in the face of any trouble. And while educators must be prepared to expect the unexpected, no one could have anticipated a global outbreak, especially not one that changed the very structure of school itself.

It has been nine months since the COVID-19 virus first came to the United States and seven months since school moved online for, what was at the time, the foreseeable future. However, constant pressure from frustrated parents has led to renewed talks about reopening school in a semi-physical manner. In light of this, a parent-led committee was created by the school district board whose goal is aimed toward letting students back to school. This committee recently concluded that the school would begin a gradual process of reopening starting over the next several weeks.

Interestingly, this decision was met with significant backlash from students and educators alike, with many arguing that parents should not have precedence over experts on the matter. Even despite numerous precautions that are set to be employed during the intermediary stage of reopening, the overwhelming concern is that at-risk individuals would be subjecting themselves to an unsafe environment, putting themselves in danger of contracting the virus.

However, it must be noted that the school district is going above and beyond to minimize the possibility of the virus spreading should we return to campus. A crucial part of the plan that is often omitted by its critics is the panel of medical professionals that consistently consult with SDUHSD and SDUSD on safely reopening. In the words of district superintendent Robert Haley, the team, which includes the San Diego County Public Health Officer’s medical advisory board and officials from UCSD and Rady Children’s Hospital, engage in dialogue “on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis”.

It is still fair to say that the district has not been adequately communicating the specifics of the plan to the public, a sentiment that was strongly felt during the board meeting on October 14 — just look at the colorful comments left by its live viewers (you won’t be disappointed). This is also keeping in mind that we live in a community with the second-largest percentage of college graduates in Southern California, as well as being the top biotechnology center in the country, according to Forbes Magazine.

It is more than clear that education and public health are two of the highest priorities within the greater Del Mar-Carmel Valley area. So, with this continuous feeling of vagueness and uncertainty arising from the lack of public information from the consulted medical professionals — a field that a majority of parents here are acquainted with — no one knows who or what to believe.

The school district’s listlessness leading up to this point has indeed been disappointing from what has been alleged to be one of the best school districts in the nation. But when considering the current state of our education system, one has to take what they can get. It is undeniable that a significant number of students, including those without IEPs, are either struggling or failing to adjust to the school’s new norm.

This is in addition to the students who have adapted to the distance plan because it is unrealistic to continue the process of online learning in preparing young people for the workforce. Ultimately, it is the school district’s responsibility to keep our generation on the right track for college and beyond. How can we expect a class to serve traditional jobs and forge connections when their formative years were spent in a Google Meet?

The long-term effects of sustained isolation on our generation and society are severely concerning. We should be taking the first opportunity to safely return to school, even for kids who have supposedly thrived in this impractical environment. And, as stated earlier, teaching is a risk. It will always be a risk. But with the necessary safety measures in place, educators should take this proposal with a grain of salt. We cannot continue to direct insults toward the school board, for as much as they have made mistakes during the campaign to reopen, at least they realize the issue at hand. There is no other way to address it.

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