Deciding how and where to learn is tough during a pandemic
Wingspan Editor-in-Chiefs discuss their decisions for virtual and in-person learning
September 10, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought nothing but uncertainty and instability into everyone’s lives, including this summer when FISD was figuring out the best way to reopen schools, causing students to weigh their options of virtual or in-person learning.
Wingspan Editor-in-Chiefs Trisha Dasgupta and Aaron Boehmer were split in their decisions on how and where they would learn. Here’s what they had to say:
To be virtual
I know my family wasn’t the only one in Frisco to get whiplash from all the changing plans.
Everyone’s going to do virtual learning. Actually wait, it’s a hybrid learning. Wait, no, nevermind, you can choose now. However, not all of your classes are available online, if that’s what you want. Okay, now they are. We’re going to do this, no actually we’re going to do that, actually, no this is what we’re doing.
It was pretty exhausting.
Now, I understand completely that much of this was out of the district’s hand and that they had to make plans based on the constantly changing information. Given the circumstances, FISD somehow managed to give us a solution that (almost) everyone was okay with: an option to either choose 100% virtual or 100% in-person learning.
My family and I chose to do virtual learning, which I felt was the best option for me for a variety of reasons.
My biggest concern when choosing between virtual and face to face learning, and quite frankly, every decision regarding increased exposure in the last six months, is the fact that I live with my grandmother, who is very high risk. Since the first lockdown order was implemented my family has been only going out for necessities, always wearing a mask, and leaving all non-essential shopping for online.
When thinking about going back to school, I just couldn’t think of a way to be completely sure that I wasn’t going to bring home the virus to my grandmother. Even though everyone would be wearing masks, and social distancing would be enforced, I knew there were certain places that maintaining a six feet distance wouldn’t be possible.
Additionally, most of my classes are much more conducive to a virtual environment, considering that I am taking mostly Humanities and history courses. Since I wasn’t in more hands-on classes like sciences that would require labs or art classes that would require painting and sculpting, I knew it’d be much easier for my schedule to transfer to a virtual setting.
While I miss my friends and my teachers immensely, I know that this was the right choice for me. Every student had to make the right decision for their family and their circumstances, and the only wrong choice is to shame someone else’s. Everybody has their own situations and issues they need to consider, and those circumstances might not be apparent to a third party.
To be in-person
Never would I ever have thought I’d have to make the nerve-wracking decision between a virtual or in-person senior year. But when my parents and I were met with the task, with much reluctance and hesitation, we chose in-person school.
Since the beginning, my family and I have been extremely safe when we have to go out: wearing masks, staying socially distant from others, and excessively using hand sanitizer.
My parents and I read the guidelines and procedures that campus and the school district had taken to layout the school in a safe manner, be it mandating masks, socially distanced desks, or rearranging the schedule so that all students aren’t in the hallways at once. We concluded it was as safe as it could be.
We also weighed in other things, like coursework. A multitude of my elective classes were only offered — and only work, as they are hands-on courses — in person, such as art. I’ve been a part of the art program since freshman year, learning, growing, and developing my abilities with each class I’ve taken, including my final class this year with AP 2-D. In-person exclusivity wasn’t restricted to only fine arts, though, as even some of my core classes like AP Biology required students to come in multiple times every marking period for labs.
Considering my coursework, it wouldn’t be realistic — or possible with the restrictions — to continue in the virtual academy. Not to mention the distractions and procrastination that come with online learning at home. Attending Zoom classes from bed never became more tempting.
I reassured myself that as long as I stayed away from people, wore a mask, and used hand sanitizer and soap frequently, then I’d be good and so would everyone else.
And that’s what I’ve done, because that’s what we should all be doing to keep ourselves and each other safe. And I’ll continue to do it.
Sure, having to wear a mask can be “annoying”, as can having to stay at a six feet distance from your friends at school. But it’s what we need to do, and that should be enough justification.
I’ll admit that I don’t know if I’ve made the right decision. I looked at my circumstances and chose based on what my parents and I thought was both safe and conducive to my learning for my final year of high school.
I’m not certain of the choice I made to be in-person, and I probably never will be. I’d say, whether we like it or not, uncertainty is the nature of a pandemic. Or at least this one.
But I am for certain of one thing: everyone needs to wear their masks over their noses. Please.