Maybe We Should Embrace a Messed Up School Year

By Grace Mersch

November 10, 2020

Across the country, thousands of schools began the year under a blended model of learning. Whether they remain in this model or not, administrators are navigating the labyrinth of COVID-19 guidelines and protocols in an attempt to restore a state of normality. But what if instead of worrying and rushing to return to school full-time, we took it as an opportunity to better understand how to effectively utilize remote or blended learning? What if we allowed ourselves to have a messed up year of school?

The biggest criticism of the blended and remote learning models is the concern for students, especially younger students, falling behind. But what exactly are they falling behind on?

According to the Washington Post, schools that teach “more than 90 percent of the world’s enrolled students have closed because of the coronavirus pandemic” by the end of March. By March 4, 188 countries began to close their schools’ doors. Ohio schools closed their doors on March 13, leaning towards a later end of closings.

Because of the large percentage of students who lost valuable instruction time at the end of last year, Norwood City School District — or America’s school system, for that matter — is not alone in their concerns. In a pandemic that has plundered the entire world, there is no point in competition now. The whole world is struggling to manage education and COVID-19; there is no one country that can continue its school year as normal. So why is America still so divided on the issue of reopening schools fully versus sticking with a remote or blended learning system?

Maybe it has to do with America’s competitive desire to produce the smartest students at the expense of their health. Maybe America just wants to reopen its economy and make money to compensate for catastrophic losses due to the pandemic. The answers remain unclear.

Regardless of one’s opinions on whether schools should return to a full-time schedule or not, it is indisputable that a COVID-19 outbreak caused by a reopening could have devastating consequences on the Norwood Community. The school district has fewer students than that of some of the surrounding areas. If school resumes full-time, and if it is not executed correctly, one COVID-19 infection could turn into two. Then three. Then five. Then 20.

The small sample size this district offers should be enough to make anyone skeptical of a reopening, especially when proper social distancing and 100 percent correct mask-wearing compliance is never guaranteed.