As 2021 came to an end, many people had been hoping to see an end to COVID-19 as well. But the start of the new year has brought no cure or bright side to the COVID-19 virus. The virus has been running rampant across the entire country, and cases have risen astronomically compared to the past year. On just Jan. 5 of 2022, there were 704,369 new cases reported in the United States, compared to only 14,695 cases being reported on June 24 of 2021. With the virus out of control, many school administrations, including Walpole High School’s, have been wondering if it is best for students to continue to attend school in person, or to have students return to learning virtually.
While the administration understands that going virtual would be the best solution to limit the spread of COVID-19, they also know that taking that action would not come without consequences. In the prior year, Walpole High administration made the decision to switch to a hybrid schedule, with two days of remote learning and three days of in-person learning; however, this was not as productive as the administration had hoped.
During the previous school year, students had undergone setbacks in their learning. Sitting at home in front of a computer screen for six hours straight left many students bored and inattentive, which greatly harmed their learning. And, while students only needed to manage four classes compared to this year’s eight, 90-minute blocks left a toll on their attention span. This school year has been a fast-paced one, where students have needed to learn information that they were unable to learn last year. If the administration was to make the decision to go remote again, it would result in a slower pace of learning, which would harm students who are already trying to catch up on academic material from last school year.
Students also know that a virtual schedule would likely mean, to some extent, the end to sports and other extracurricular activities. Last year, seasons for most sports consisted of shortened regular seasons that ended without a postseason. If the school was to go virtual again, a large group of student-athletes would have their seasons cut short again, taking away from their high school experience.
In a best-case scenario, cases would undergo a steep decrease and the school year would continue, uninterrupted. However, COVID-19 cases could possibly sustain a high rate for a longer period of time than expected, or spike back up sometime down the line. If this were the case, then the administration should take a virtual schedule into consideration. Otherwise, it would certainly be best for both students and faculty to continue the year in person.