Return to distance learning elicits mixed response

Atticus Chames, Staff Writer

TuHS closed down on Jan.13 as positive COVID cases were nearing 700 by Friday, Jan. 14, according to the district COVID dashboard. As the Omicron variant continues to infect record-breaking numbers of people throughout the nation, many schools are being forced to return to distance learning. 

The district announced that Tualatin High School, Tigard High School, Fowler Middle School, Hazelbrook Middle School and Twality Middle school would all return to distance learning temporarily in an effort to combat the recent surge of COVID cases. Students returned to in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 24. 

Many schools in the US have already begun the process of shifting back to distance learning; however, a major divide has emerged regarding the safety of in-person schooling now with the Omicron variant proving to be massively infectious. 

In Chicago, 73 percent of leaders in the Chicago Teachers Union voted to move their district back to remote learning in an attempt to control the spread of the virus. Mayor Lori Lightfoot criticized the decision, asserting that it was unnecessary to move the entire district online and that they should have targeted only the most heavily affected schools. 

“Educators want to be in the classroom with students, where they learn best. We do that through working together to roll out testing, masking and vaccination – and most major districts have done it,” expressed Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. 

“NYC and LA have instituted rigorous testing programs to catch asymptomatic COVID spread in its tracks and keep educators, students and their communities safe.” 

On Jan. 3, President Joe Biden made a speech urging educators to keep schools open, despite the surge in cases. Using the funds from the American Rescue Plan, Biden hopes to improve ventilation, testing and social distancing.

“States and school districts have spent this money well – many of them – but unfortunately, some haven’t,” Biden said, “so I encourage the states and school districts to use the funding that you still have to protect your children and keep the schools open.”