Now is not the time to go back to school

Ava Wittman, News Editor

The past few months of the ever-dragging-on pandemic have borne good news in terms of vaccinations, and with it comes the debate, “Is it time to go back to school?” 

This is, of course, a completely legitimate and valid question. The pandemic is an ever-changing situation that demands consistent adjustment of policies and ideologies to keep up with our ever-changing knowledge reservoir on the virus. However, I believe there has been one extremely demeaning oversight: no one has asked the students. I am incredulous that we would be asked to put ourselves and our families in potentially life-risking situations and not be so much as asked for our musings on the situation. 

Forcing students to return to school now, or even soon, is ridiculously irresponsible, and the argument over what we want or deserve without so much as a survey to the student population is insulting and imperious. The dangers are simply too great. Even if the student population isn’t necessarily at risk (although no one can guarantee anyone’s reaction), many of us live with high-risk persons. Going to school and bringing home COVID-19 could mean returning to an empty home for the rest of our lives for some of us.

 Over the past several months, I have heard much talk on how returning to school would “only” claim the lives of “some” teachers and students. Is that a price worth paying? Are the lives of the educators of America’s youth a price you’re willing to shell out for a false sense of normalcy? How about our lives? 

I completely understand the very real desire to achieve a sense of normalcy, even if it isn’t truly normal or even safe. It is satisfying to make progress, it looks good politically and it certainly inspires hope. However, our lives, the lives of our children, the lives of “America’s future” are not a price to be paid for some cheap political points, and the insinuation it is by our own hand or at our will is deceitful and disgusting. 

This is in no way the opinion of the people, but rather the opinion of a person. I, however, would believe it willfully ignorant to commit to the idea I am the only one who holds it.


Mar. 5 Update:

At the time this article was written, the students had not yet been asked for their thoughts on the possibility of returning to school. Students were asked on differing days this week during advisory, rather casually, for our opinions or emotions regarding our return. I will give credit where credit is due and say, if and only if this was a legitimate inquiry in hopes of gathering and then listening – truly listening – to student feedback, with the intention of altering plans depending on the comfortability of students, then thank you. 

If this is not the case, and it was a mere public relations-esque move with the intent to be able to say, “Yeah, sure, we asked the students,” then all my previous statements in the article above stand, and we are right back where we started. 

In either case, the issue of formality still remains. Personally I was asked to draw a dot on a graph with four emotions on it to express how I felt about the possibility of returning. While potentially well-intentioned, it is not a proper forum for one to express their thoughts on such a monumental matter. It is time for high school students to stop being treated as children, and start being treated for what we are; people tasked with weighing their own lives against the benefits of returning to school. To treat us as anything less tells us you have all more than assigned the value of our lives yourselves.