When will it be safe to go back to school?

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Sofia Marcus, Student Reporter

Let’s go back in December, the people say! On second thought, we shouldn’t go until January.  Actually, let’s just wait until next year!  Arlington Public Schools are still figuring out how to get students safely back in the school buildings as soon as possible, because in-person school has been closed since March due to Covid-19!  Most people agree that Distance Learning is no substitute for actually being in the classroom as part of a real educational community.  But questions about health and safety continue to prevent a return.

School started online for Arlington County public schools this September, and ever since then APS officials like Dr. Duran and state officials like Governor Northam have been working hard to determine the best time to go back. They do have some plans and dates, but the plans keep changing, depending on if cases are going down, which phase we’re in, and having students go back in levels so cases don’t go shooting up.

All of which leaves students and parents in a holding pattern — with both positives and negatives.  Cristina Marcus, mom of an 8th grade girl and a 2nd grade boy, explains that it’s very challenging, because she works from home, but she enjoys spending time with her kids.

“I rate online school a 6 out of 10 because of the challenge with my work and my kids interrupting me throughout the day,” she says. “I hope kids can go back after Thanksgiving break.”

Ira Baker, a 6th grade English teacher, says that he thinks the students will continue to learn how to do online school, but will be very happy to be back in school. If students go back, he thinks that’s the most important thing. Mr. Baker said that online school is harder because of figuring out how to use the technology.

“I think I would rate online school an 8 out of 10, because I’m not the greatest at technology. Also, to add on, the struggle for me is seeing the kids online rather than seeing them in person,” he says. “Knowing that it’s cold season, I’m worried that it won’t be safe to go back.”

Sophia Ohle, 8th grader at Congressional School, says that she is in person, and explains that it’s hard to hear and understand what the teachers are saying because of wearing masks. Sophia says if she could change anything, she would probably want to have more of her classes outside, rather than only lunch. She would also want the older kids to be able to use the playground after the little kids, once it’s wiped down.

“I feel like school is an 8 ½ out of 10, because some kids at my school have had family members get Covid and had to stay home for about 2 weeks,” she explains.

Nicolas Marcus, a 2nd grader at Discovery Elementary School, claims that he likes online school because he can play at recess with his neighborhood friends, and on Mondays he can have breaks whenever he wants. Nic also says that he rates online school an 8 out 10 because some of the stuff is difficult to do without a teacher. He says he wants to go back to school soon so he can see his classmates.

“I think we should go back to school in a month,” he says.

Laila Flores, an 8th grader, explains that she likes distance learning, because she can wear PJs to school. She states she wants to go back to school, so she can’t get distracted as easily. She also adds that she likes the hybrid model, because she would get to go back, and it can be safe if people wear masks and social distance.

Laila exclaims, “We shouldn’t take the SOLs, because just no. But we should go back in December because of Secret Santa, hahahahaha!”