Should We Go Back to Online Learning?


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Online School: Is it worth going back to online school and risk the education of the children?

Valentina Montenegro-Venero, Staffer

Omicron is no joke. Named after a letter in the Greek alphabet, the newest COVID-19 variant has become the fastest spreading, mildest version of the virus. Although it is better than previous variants in terms of how affected infected people are, it is much worse considering how transmissible it is. This makes it extremely widespread, especially after Christmas and New Years reunions.

    This specific variant is elusive. Sometimes, it may not show up on rapid tests, because rapid tests tend to show false negatives. However, PCR tests are not available to everyone, because they are being held for people who truly need them. On top of that, there has been a shortage of rapid tests since December, due to many people testing themselves prior to, during, or after their holiday travels. And since many people with Omicron are asymptomatic, they may not even know that they have it. Therefore, instead of testing themselves, they will continue spreading it to those around them. Or, if they have a couple symptoms, then they might take a test, but it could very well show a false negative, leading the infected person to continue spreading the virus at work, school, or to their loved ones.

    Even though this variant may be less dangerous than previous variants, it still needs to be taken seriously. If you thought of getting together with COVID positive friends to contract the virus and have immunity, don’t. We don’t even know if you would get immunity after having the virus, or how long that would last. The best thing you can do for yourself is stay safe, wear your mask, and test yourself if you feel any symptoms. Although this variant can sometimes bypass masks, it is still important to wear them. Instead of wearing a regular surgical or cloth mask, it is now recommended to wear N95s or KN95s if you can find them, or to double mask otherwise.

    Now, the question is: should we continue in person school or go back online? The last time we were online was early last year, but we were completely online for a few months in 2020. We successfully transitioned into hybrid mode and continued with that for another few months. Currently, Bishops has an online option for students with COVID, Francis Parker is able to stream classes for students if necessary, and La Jolla High has no online options.

    Unfortunately, our school does not have an online learning option. If we were to continue in person learning, there would be many students spreading the virus all around the school and back home, some never finding out that they had it in the first place. Because, let’s be honest, there are most certainly people with COVID on campus right now. This would lead to more students staying home, missing school, and possibly falling behind. If we wanted to avoid that, we could have everybody regularly tested, although it would be extremely difficult to be regularly testing over 1600 students. Another option would be to bring back some social distancing protocols, such as more space between the desks, masks being enforced outside, and school ending early so lunch could be enjoyed safely at home.

    The safest option is online learning. This would be smarter and more prioritizing of students’ health. We could do online learning for a bit, and then slowly transition back to hybrid mode once it is safe. I know the school doesn’t want to go back to online learning, but it is the best option right now. Everybody had a hard time with it last year, teachers and students included. However, if we want to skip a school outbreak which in the end would lead us back to online learning anyways, then we should take the shortcut and dive in headfirst.