After a full two weeks of hybrid learning, Irvine Unified School District, IUSD, confirmed 10 students and teachers who tested positive for the Coronavirus. Is going back to school worth the risks?
On September 24, 2020, IUSD was one of the first schools in Orange County to open for in-person sessions for the first time in six months. Under the hybrid model, students are experiencing staggered learning, where they are split into two cohorts and one of the two attends in-person sessions while the other does independent assignments.
Below is a breakdown of mine and other students’ opinions on the new learning model compared to the distance learning model.
All staff members and students are required to have on a face mask at all times; however, they are allowed to take off their masks when drinking or eating outside the classroom.
All students have two in-person classes every week. Each class is approximately 90 minutes and students at home are required to do independent assignments that substitute for the in-person lesson they are missing out on. “It is less effective than [the] distance learning model. Hybrid learning is a waste of my time,” one high school senior stated.
There is also a substantial amount of lag time between classes because of the set protocols before and after class. As teachers try to focus on providing a similar learning experience for both in-person and online learners, many people realize that the limited opportunities we had in distance learning were further decreased in the hybrid model.
All classrooms are equipped with sanitizing stations. Students are required to sanitize their hands and wipe down the desk before and after every class. “Although this is a set protocol by the school, it is evident that some teachers are not following the protocol for their own convenience,” a high school junior claimed.
All desks are set up in an organized fashion that abides by the social distancing protocols. Students are required to enter and leave the classrooms in a well-ordered manner, and teachers ask students to drink water or do other businesses that require the removal of the mask outside of the classroom. Each room is equipped with an upgraded industry MERV 14 air filters and HEPA air purification units, which helps filter the germs and other unwanted molecules and provides clean air quality.
Outside The Classroom
Students are asked to stay socially distant outside of the classroom. The walkways on the second floor are marked with one-way signs, so students do not run into each other face to face. “This method is an inconvenience because I am required to walk around the whole building to get to a class which is located right next to the stairways in the opposite direction,” a high school junior said.
While it is great that we are able to go to school and learn in class, it still seems very unsafe, less effective, and deters collaboration compared to distance learning. Due to an initial increase in COVID-19 cases within our district, IUSD decided to create a dashboard that gives complete transparency about the movement of the virus: iusd.org/dashboard/. Was there really a benefit to being one of the first districts in Orange County to open for in-person learning? Would learning be a lot safer and effective if we just continued with distance learning until it is completely safe? These are questions we all must ask ourselves.