On Tuesday evening the Bellwood-antis school board decided when and how students at Bellwood-Antis will go back to school. Beginning on Monday, Myers Elementary and the middle school will be going back to school full time, and high school will be shifting to a hybrid model until the end of January at the earliest.
B-A students have been learning remotely since December in response to rising COVID cases in Blair County.
Most people would agree that any form of in-person learning is better than virtual learning, but the question is, is it the best option as of right now? B-A’s hybrid model has students divided into two groups, with each group attending live classes twice a week and virtual classes twice a week.
High school students, it would seem, would prefer to be back in school full time, five days a week; however, the school district has released a letter with a detailed justification for why high school is returning hybrid while other buildings at B-A are going in-person full-time.
Tops among the reasons is spacing during lunch, when students are unmasked. This was the biggest obstacle for the district to overcome because there is currently not enough space to distance students while unmasked and eating lunch. Other reasons included:
Infected high school aged students are more contagious and play a more active role in transmission than younger students.
High school aged students are more likely to gather outside of school, and then spread infection in the school building.
High school aged students are less likely to require supervision at home during at home learning sessions
High school requires more frequent movement between parts of the building. Therefore, less congestion in the building will result in lower exposure rates among students.
Fewer students results in more distancing and less quarantined students when positive case exists in the school building.
Complexity of schedule reduces ability to cohort all day.
Shared middle school staff and B-A’s partnership with CTC prevents the wholesale schedule changes what would allow limited interactions among students.
Despite the list of justifications, many high schoolers wish things could be different.
“I don’t really like the hybrid model. I think we should go back to school in person full time because you learn better at school,” said junior Jake Martin. “Plus you get to be around your classmates more, which is a bonus.”
Senior Raven Criscitello said students should be given the choice to come to school or stay home. “I think we should go to school full time and give students the option to be virtual if that’s what they feel is best. I understand some people might not be comfortable going back to school, but I would like to be in person for the rest of my senior year.”
Senior Nick Plank said he felt students were more productive when in class in person. “Not to mention the education quality is much higher when teachers are actually teaching their students in a classroom. Hybrid and online models also lack a social aspect among classmates that I think increases moral and motivation among students.”
Its no secret that there are a lot of students that are unhappy about the current situation but people are trying to make the most of it. One such person is Zach Pellegrine, who is looking on the bright side of the next few weeks.
“Its not very ideal to only be in school for two days out of the week, but at least we have two days and not zero. Although it’ll be weird only having half the school here, I think we can make the most of it and hopefully by February we’ll be back to full time,” said Pellegrine.
It seems for now that students will just have to persevere and power through these next few weeks in the hopes that things will change for the better soon.