What SC staff and students think about staying in-person after another COVID breakout

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Even with the rising COVID cases and discovery of Omicron, recently the Santa Clara Office of Education and the Public Health Department decided to keep schools open. They agreed that students would work better in-person at school. But is it only for students’ best interests or also the money? 

The officials also seem to think that Omicron isn’t much of a threat because it has milder symptoms. Yes, it is “milder” but it is still a nasty variant that hospitalized over 132,000 and is slowly killing people. Many students who tested positive for COVID have shown no symptoms because they are young and vaccinated, but not everyone’s immune system is the same. We don’t know how each individual would respond to the virus, especially when COVID targets adults more. Ashley Rideout, a math teacher, commented, “I think it’s a sad reality. We can’t really go back online because it’s the state’s decision. We have 20% of students and staff who are stuck at home, sick.” 

If you’re wondering why we haven’t gone virtual yet, it’s because public schools are funded by how many students are at school every day. State legislators are the ones who can change the law and fund the schools if we go online. Yet they haven’t changed it, so our school couldn’t close, because we wouldn’t receive funding from the government. Victoria Nguyen, a freshman, expressed, “Personally, I feel that schools that remain open don’t really care about students/staff and many others’ health. Opening school will benefit the school since they will earn more money that way. However, they risk many people for their own benefits.”

A student engaging in virtual learning
Photo credit: Thomas Park on Unsplash

According to an article from CDC, studies found middle and high school settings allow SARS-CoV-2 to spread more. SARS-CoV-2 is the deadly virus that potentially led to COVID. Seeing how this article was posted before the holiday break, before the COVID case increases, the evidence is enough to convince me we should return to online learning. Not only it is safer for our students and staff members, but research proves that students perform better in online learning.

I interviewed a group of parents at Silver Creek and all of them collectively agreed online learning is better. Amber Nguyen’s parents said, “I want my kids to have distance learning because it ensures their safety with the ongoing virus.” Priscilla Batten-Chow, a freshman’s parent, added, “Staying at home and going online is best due to the widespread of COVID. At least at home, you would know if your family has COVID and that it’s safer.”

Even if the officials think it’s safe to be on campus because we wear masks and practice other safety protocols, I still think otherwise. Students can still take off their masks outdoors and if they don’t distance themselves, the virus can be easily transmitted. I still see groups of students huddling together and not wearing their masks properly. Nguyen shared her thoughts about these surging cases, “I kind of knew this would happen when the government allowed people to not wear masks even though we were still in a pandemic.”

All three parties, the students, the staff, and the parents, sought both a safe school and work environment. Thousands of lives are at stake; even if COVID and Omicron went easier on teens and children, it can’t be said the same for adults. As this virus is passed around, the battle gets increasingly hard. 

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