OPINION: Weighing our options: The return to distance learning is necessary



Classrooms across the globe slowly deteriorate in attendance as COVID-19 and it’s multiple variants rapidly spread.

Linda Manzo, Writer

After nearly completing one full semester of a “normal” school year following over a year of distance learning, schools worldwide are reverting back to online education. As of today, the state of California is not considering this as an option for public schools despite COVID-19 cases rising each week. With the interest of the economy in mind, the state has restricted the funds necessary for distance learning to commence. Students affected by the COVID-19 variant are missing a quality education by (rightfully) prioritizing their health and safety. 

Distance learning was a horrid educational nightmare for students and teachers alike; the disconnect proved that platforms such as Zoom and Edgenuity are inadequate for learning. The infamous napping during class (though students would be hesitant to admit), was more common than not. The prevalent cheating and temptations of phone usage were not ignored, as a large sum of students have participated in at least one of the three activities listed. 

Upon returning to campus, the majority of students feel as though the year spent online was lost. Personally, I left the school campus as a freshman and returned fully as a junior. Though I had transitioned into an upperclassman, I still felt out of place and physically lost within the halls. Though distance learning proved itself to be unsuccessful, the repercussions of continuing with in-person learning weigh far greater. 

After testing positive, a student is to be quarantined for ten days and return once they have tested negative. After said quarantine has been completed, the student has now been absent for approximately seven days, causing them to fall behind a considerable amount throughout their classes. This narrative is becoming a reality for a growing group, now filling classrooms with students unable to comprehend the curriculum fully.Upon returning from Winter Break, Foothill Technology felt the noticeable absence of its students, causing classrooms to feel vacant. The students are not the only target, COVID-19 has been contracted by teachers, disrupting weeks of lesson planning. 

In California, schools receive their funds based on their attendance. The ten day quarantine is harming the economical status of schools as well as contributing to the exponential growth of the virus. Each student absence causes the school to lose approximately $85, meaning one student in quarantine could cost up to $595. 

In the recent newsletter sent out to Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) families, we have been informed that due to the increase in COVID cases in the district, alerting the potentially exposed students has been discontinued. The limitation of this precaution is counterintuitive, as alerting students of exposure is an indicator to seek for a COVID test. 

For those who attended hybrid learning, the district required mandatory temperature checks before the school day began, which concluded at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. Since the school year is to continue in person, precautionary measures such as the temperature checks and availability of rapid tests should be utilized. 

VUSD is providing the option of Independent Study (IS) for those with homes greatly affected by COVID-19. Though this is available for some, the majority of the student body isn’t able to convert for the safety of themselves and their families. Remaining at home is the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19, protecting ourselves and our loved ones. Though the state has provided effective precautionary measures for the revival of in person learning, the safest option would be to return to distance learning. 

As COVID-19 cases reach record breaking highs, the closure of schools seems inevitable. Though the transition can vary in effects on students’ mental health, the repercussions of remaining in person is proving to be detrimental. Despite its overwhelming unpopularity from last year, the return to distance learning is necessary in order to preserve the education for those affected. A modified education is better than none at all.

What do you think?