Just more madness?

Commentary: Do the potential benefits of going to school in person outweigh the stress of change?


NT News File Photo

At New Trier, the intense nature of extracurriculars prevents students in their pursuit of multiple activities and leadership opportunities

Cook County has the third highest confirmed COVID-19 cases (145,462) and fourth highest COVID-related deaths (5,225) out of all the counties in the country as of Sept. 30

With these numbers in mind, it doesn’t necessarily scream the message that we should be going back to school. But I also don’t think it asserts that we definitely should not. 

Aside from the health concerns, I wonder how this attempt to transition back to in-person learning might affect the mental health of both teachers and students. 

I don’t think it would be wise to have everyone go back full time, but generally, I don’t think there’s a huge risk in a quarter of the student body attending at a time as long as everyone wears a mask and socially distances. Because, I can imagine more kids catching COVID outside of school, when they’re out with friends, than when they’re in school. 

But of course, that’s assuming the school’s plans play out perfectly. The primary doubt I have about going back is simply whether students will abide by the safety measures the school has laid out. I’m even more skeptical of whether the school will actually discipline students if they do break the safety guidelines in some way, as administrators don’t always seem to deliver harsh repercussions when warranted.  

Aside from the health concerns, I wonder how this attempt to transition back to in-person learning might affect the mental health of both teachers and students. 

For teachers who will be teaching in person, they will have to balance teaching essentially two different classes at once – virtual and in school – and making class plans for both. If I were a teacher, I know that would stress me out and I would be lost as to how exactly I’m supposed to direct my attention to both the students in class and online at the same time.

And I think the things teachers might be stressing about would also stress out students. Generally, I have no idea if we as students are ready for another change after having just (sort of) gotten used to the new block schedule. We haven’t even had a real Trevian Day yet. 

I also fear this transition back to in-person school will make the school days longer and more tiring for those having to Zoom in to the in-person class. If we are expected to Zoom with the in-person class everyday, I think I might cry. Right now, I’m surviving, maybe even thriving, because of the flexibility I usually have when teachers sometimes go partially or fully asynchronous. Now, that flexibility feels threatened.

On top of all that,  there is no vaccine and so there really is no telling when this will all be over or when we can be back in-person full time again. With so many unknowns, I can’t help but doubt how sustainable this hybrid model will be. 

All the same, I’m hopeful going back to school part-time will help enhance our education while ideally not causing our physical and mental health to deteriorate. But really, all I crave is some sense of normalcy; whatever that new normal looks like.