After beginning the year with 100% distance learning, Palm Beach County has decided to reopen school buildings on September 21 to those who would like to attend in-person classes. This opening date is a lot sooner than many students imagined, so it has caused many discussions on whether or not it is safe to go back to school.
The district has said that all students who go back must wear a mask at all times and that social distancing must be implemented into classrooms. However, many students and parents have concerns about different aspects of those safety procedures. In addition, there are questions about how the “hybrid” model will work, since teachers will be teaching both in-person and virtual students at the same time.
“I do not want to have to walk around a hot school with a mask on and do the same thing I could do at my own home,” said junior Jacob Erquicia.
Florida has had approximately 648,269 Covid-19 cases since March, with 12,000 deaths. After cases peaked in June and July, the numbers are finally starting to drop. However, Labor Day weekend could have made the numbers spike again.
“In schools, sickness spreads fast, and even if the kids are not vulnerable, they could bring it home to their parents or grandparents who could experience fatal symptoms from it,” said Erquicia.
The School District of Palm Beach County plans on enforcing social distancing in each classroom and it is mandatory that every student wears a mask throughout the school day. During both lunches, the whole courtyard will be utilized and kids will be expected to eat lunch while socially distancing. Hallways have been marked so that students will travel one way down one side, and the other way down the other.
“My main concern is if the guidelines are enforced enough that people follow them so we can get through this hard time,” said junior Brayden Cooper.
If a classroom gets too crowded and cannot hold all of the students that come to class that day, some students will be moved to an “overflow room,” which will most likely be the gym and theatre.
“My main concern is that kids are not going to be enforced to wear masks and there are going to be too many kids at the school for the staff to enforce the wearing of masks,” said senior Kim Gibson.
Although many students are worried about safety, kids are also taking into account the difficulty of online learning.
“Many kids, including myself are having trouble with online learning. It’s just not the same as being in person,” said freshman Clayton Reynold.
Using Google Meet to teach classes has put a strain on teachers and students, and many people are planning on attending school in-person in hopes of focusing better when the material is being taught in front of them. However, due to safety guidelines, all student work will still be completed and turned in on the computer using Google Classroom, and students will need to have their school Chromebook or personal laptop with them each day.
It is difficult to decide whether or not someone should go back to school in-person because there are lots of risks and benefits for both options. It is up to the students to make their decision after talking to their families and understanding both options. If students and their families later change their minds, they can always switch to the other learning option by contacting their dean.