Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19 closed schools on Mar. 13, students have been learning one hundred percent online, and many families and teachers decided they have had enough. These past few weeks have been crucial as schools across Orange County determined whether their schools should reopen or not. The district looked at alternative learning plans that would benefit the students and teachers while maintaining their health and safety. As the districts decided upon a plan to reopen, parents and teachers rallied together across the county to support full in-person instruction. Families expressed their dissatisfaction with distance learning, holding up signs such as “School is Essential” and “Open schools.” The ongoing pandemic and the closure of schools has undoubtedly been difficult for many. The lack of real, face-to-face physical interactions has been one of the most prominent issues of distance learning. Supporters of reopening campuses assert that feelings of loneliness and anxiety have increased during this time of isolation. They also hold firm that learning has been difficult via Canvas and Zoom/Google meets because of technology and communication issues.
Parents also protested for the right to choose whether or not they could place their children in full in-person instruction. Kevin O’Donnell of Mission Viejo, father and organizer of one of the rallys stated, “At least there (should) be an option for that – for parents to make the choice to send their kids back to school full-time.” Parents have, like students, have also felt the pressures of distance learning. It has been tough for parents to balance their children’s needs along with their jobs and other responsibilities.
The protests of families and teachers displayed their frustration and desire to have in-person learning return. The following week, on Sep. 22, the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) announced their hybrid learning plan, allowing students to attend school two days a week while staying online for the remaining three days. However, even though a lot of students and teachers are passionate about the reopening of schools, there is still a majority that have some concerns. Some students and teachers might have a family member that is vulnerable to the coronavirus due to preexisting conditions. Attending school in person could potentially increase the infection rates of COVID-19 and ultimately lead to more deaths. Furthermore, some students are dissatisfied with how the hybrid program has been conducted so far. Sophomore Miranda Lucas says, “for me the hybrid model wasn’t the best. Almost all of my friends were either 100% online or in the other color group so there was no point in really going to school, I only wanted to go back because of the social aspect. Also most of my classes were pretty much just online school except I was in a desk on campus.”
The district has been working hard to implement a plan that would keep both students and teachers safe. Although the hybrid plan is not ideal, it is still a monumental step towards the eventual full reopening of schools.
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