Students should be allowed the choice to return to hybrid learning

Art+of+Andrew+Bourget+at+school%2C+Sophia+Hance+sick+in+bed.+Art+by+Jackson+Collins.

Jackson Collins

Art of Andrew Bourget at school, Sophia Hance sick in bed. Art by Jackson Collins.

Andrew Bourget, Web Content Manager

NOTE: This story is part of a Point/Counterpoint Opinion. Follow this link to see the other side!

While the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be overstated, the following of safety guidelines by the Delaware City School [DCS] community shows that we should be allowed the choice to return to hybrid learning.
Students within the district have the option to be enrolled in hybrid or remote learning. If the school board would decide to move to all online learning, iit would take away that choice.
Picking between those options is a personal decision. Students should know best what environment they can learn most effectively in. Their situation, be it an individual learning style, or a class that really benefits from in-person instruction, is known best by them.
Of course, the safety of the community has to be at the forefront of the decisions of community members and the school board.
The degree of risk of in-person learning has been minimized by the students, staff and faculty members who are committed to following safety guidelines throughout DCS buildings.
On November 17, the district School Board held a meeting where they ultimately decided to switch to fully remote learning for at least 3 weeks. That switch was mainly caused by the low number of substitutes and high number of quarantining teachers–not by the spread of Covid-19.
Delaware Health District Commissioner Sheila Hiddleston attended that school board meeting to provide professional insight into the district’s following of safety guidelines and the extent of spread of Covid-19 within schools.
Hiddleston said that in her observations while touring DCS buildings that the following of mask-wearing and other safety guidelines was “phenomenal.” While going through the Covid-19 cases within the school district, she explicitly stated that the number of cases was “minimal.”
At that time, the district had only 12 confirmed cases. Those numbers are out of over 6,000 DCS students and staff, and were rarely spread within district buildings.
The wearing of face masks is one of the most effective ways to hinder the spread of Covid-19. That, in addition to physical distancing has proven to be effective by both the medical community and the low rate of spread within the district.
Students following safety measures is not the only thing that minimizes the risk of spread within schools. The new cleaning protocols, enforcement of guidelines by staff and contact tracing, which allows for easy identification of those who had contact with people who had Covid-19, contribute to this.

  See DCS New Cleaning Protocols

At the time of the November meeting, 47 suspected cases were identified through contact tracing and other reporting methods. The administration and health district’s use of that lets them quarantine those individuals to stop further spread.
While any number of cases is bad, this shows that the spread of Covid-19 within district buildings is rare. The large problem causing the current rapid, uncontrolled spread of the virus is not from in-person education. It is from irresponsible personal gatherings that don’t follow safety guidelines.
Having the district switch to remote learning, if anything, could encourage students to gather and spread Covid-19.
Without having to be at school to attend class or travel to and from school, students would be given more free time. And, without the masked social interactions in-person schooling provides, students might be encouraged to gather with friends more.
Those not wanting to risk in-person schooling should be given the choice to do remote learning, but those that feel like they benefit from in-person instruction should be given the option to choose as well. That option to choose should be sustained as long as the rate of spread within district buildings stays low.