Opinion: Students Should Return To School

Students+returned+to+campus+for+in-person+learning+on+Sept.+8.+

Landri Hargrove

Students returned to campus for in-person learning on Sept. 8.

Sembree Yeary, Personality Editor

Amid the seventh month of quarantine, Mansfield ISD reopened its schools for in person instruction. Students and families were given the opportunity to remain in the MISD Virtual Learning Academy. Students considered a number of factors in their decision, including the safety of it and how many precautions would be taken, but in the midst of COVID-19 concerns, many forgot the adverse effects of virtual school on students. While the option for virtual education at home poses as a valuable opportunity from the district to keep students safe, those with the capability to come to school should return for the benefits of an in-person education. 

In order for students to return to in-person learning, the district has implemented safety precautions put in place by the CDC as well as their own policies for the safety of students. While students adjust to school in this new way of life, they may take advantage of new opportunities awarded by the school for extra precautions. For example, students may eat lunch outside as an extra precaution to social distance while they eat and also get fresh air. The numerous precautions taken by the schools in MISD offer an ease of mind for families as their students safely return back to school. 

Students in virtual school face a number of unforeseen risks, which includes negative health effects on mental and physical health because of the spike in screen time and loss of social interaction. Virtual school offers another set of problems that may seem minuscule in comparison to the pandemic but should receive equal attention. Many students face difficulties in a home setting because of the lack of structure and social aspect that schools offer. In result, students’ education is sacrificed as they attempt to learn in a new environment where they may have mental blocks. These students deserve the chance at an education as normal. 

Physical health proves just as much of a problem for students as their physical activity rates lower and they succumb to inactivity. The amount of time spent in front of a screen lowers the amount of exercise students get but also increases the amount of blue light they view daily which affects their sleep habits. The drastic increase in screen time will cause health issues that could potentially develop later in life. Younger children in online school face an even more important problem in their education; new readers will struggle with longer, more difficult texts as they learn reading skills from screen because the screens promote the idea of skimming a text that will have deeper effects on their reading later on. Texts online affect people of all ages but remain especially prevalent in younger students. 

Aside from mental and physical health, students will experience obstacles from the social aspect of school. Students lose the availability of like-minded people and social interactions with other students. After school activities and clubs will lose a number of people this year involved in the activity and students will not have access to activities that will further their own interests. The loss of this crucial aspect of school will raise the amount of virtual dropouts, and see an increase in the amount of students that will become disinterested in school in the future. Another social aspect of school that is important to a student is the relationship between themselves and the teacher, this can benefit a student in a number of ways. First of all, teachers are trained for possible signs of children at risk at home which they cannot detect through a screen. Furthermore, a professional relationship held with teachers and authority figures is detrimental to the student’s educational experience as it prepares them further for life after school.

The option MISD has given students to make their own decision in regards to their school choice is a great alternative that acknowledges the problems on both sides and allows students to make the best decision for themselves. However, the decision between virtual and in-person for a student should see heavy emphasis placed on the effects of virtual school and how it can affect a student long term.