Yenna Chong '23
With students going back to school for the second quarter, there have been concerns about students’ health and a new learning environment. NCS has created a list of instructions and guidelines to keep students safe while attending school. While there are several benefits to learning in person, returning to school while national cases are on the rise does not seem safe for the time being, especially since there were lockdowns in the spring when COVID-19 cases had only just started to appear.
Sharing a confined space with hundreds of people during a pandemic only breeds health risks. The physical health of faculty, staff, and students is of ‘primary concern’, so NCS is taking precautions to prevent any possible spread of the virus. For example, the school is placing hand sanitizing stations throughout the buildings, minimizing contact with food by serving packaged lunches, and marking the buildings with directional signs to enforce social distancing. Also, they are regulating room occupation limits and circulating the air with air from outside multiple times a day. Even considering these precautions, the chance of COVID-19 spreading does not become 0%. Moreover, autumn and winter are not only flu seasons, but the seasons when several NCS students come to school with colds (although they know they should stay home). I have faith in people’s judgment to stay home when they do not feel well during this time, but it may be tempting to ignore signs of illness and just come to school convincing yourself you are fine. Everyone understands how hard it is to make up a day’s worth of NCS’s schoolwork, so many of us would avoid missing school when possible. Trusting judgment is especially dangerous now, though, for so many common cold symptoms parallel those of COVID-19.
I wish I could be completely enthusiastic about the prospect of meeting my teachers in person for the first time and seeing friends face-to-face as opposed to sitting before my computer all day. However, health concerns in addition to the constant change in routine can be challenging to many students’ mental health, especially in an already high-stress and anxious environment. I had a smooth transition to online learning in the spring, but when it resumed for the fall, everything seemed out of place; I was unmotivated with a weak mentality, and I had no faith in my work. Consequently, I worried that I had reached academic burnout in the middle of high school. I think that learning in-person will encourage engagement in class and foster the teacher-student relationships that are yet to develop, but I am wary of the fact that I need to constantly switch my routine for blended learning; it has been difficult enough for students to get used to online schooling.
At this rate, the benefits of going to school seem almost non-existent. All the socializing amongst peers during lunch, before classes, and during office hours (which is what got me through the school day) are gone. Additionally, the geography teachers have developed a structure where students who are in school must zoom with earphones while the teacher is teaching in front of them. Essentially, there is no difference in learning except for the location change. This idea is very inefficient, for the advantage of students and teachers being together is utterly wasted. All in all, these signs should discourage NCS from having students return to school, but if the school direly wishes to do so, there needs to be a safer solution that will help students grow academically and socially.