Danger lies within 3 ft

An opinion piece


AHS quad during lunch

Your own opinion on an expanded hybrid can be shared through a letter to the editors of Rogue News.

The Ashland school district has decided to take after other local districts in reopening full-time. The administration is responding to loosening COVID-19   guidelines from the state. The new guidelines will allow the A and B cohorts to dissolve, allow classes back full time, and reduce the 6-ft social distancing rule to 3 ft. The countless studies and tests along with real-world data studied to determine the 6-ft rule are going out the window as the world pushes to re-open.

The shift to fully in-person instruction will hold stress for many, as it’s just one more transition period on top of the transition to Hybrid. Teachers and students have just gotten the hang of balancing hybrid learning. It’s discourteous of our time and stress levels and it is clear this has been done without much thought in regards to safety and mental health. 

I agree that in-person instruction is beneficial to students. It gives us much-needed human connection and motivation as well as the in-depth learning that is simply impossible through Zoom. Despite this, opening up fully is unnecessary and reckless. The district board has an obligation to keep our community safe, with in-person schooling being the biggest threat to Ashland community safety. There will be a guaranteed spike in COVID-19 cases. Jackson county has recently shifted from high risk to extreme risk. There have been 42 cases within the last 7 days. To give some perspective, 2 months ago in February, there was a 26 case 7-day average. With schools reopening there’s more to come, and these won’t be just cases or numbers, they will be real people we know: students, and parents. 

Opening up fully also completely disregards the health needs of students, leaving those with at-risk family members to make a choice between their education and someone they love. It is also completely valid for students to be concerned for their own personal health, especially with the new “stickier” strain of COVID-19 leading to increased hospitalizations in younger people. Those who do decide to stay home will very likely be trading their health and safety for their education. 

At-home students will be doing mostly asynchronous learning, with teachers told to prioritize in-person students. We’ve already seen an enormous number of failing grades and dropped classes due to the state of online education during the COVID-19 pandemic, an issue administration worked tirelessly to attempt to resolve. They found the right balance of support, mental health, and safety with hybrid learning. With expanded hybrid, at-home students are going to be left behind to face worse learning conditions than the beginning of the pandemic. Haven’t we learned our lesson?

The fact of the matter is that the district board has not taken into account the needs of their students, or even bothered to let us have a voice in a matter that affects the health of ourselves, our families, and our community. I think the school board will have a very different opinion about re-opening when we have our first long-hauler student or worse, but by then it will be too late.