The Downsides of a Full Return to School This Spring

By Matt Giberti ’21

Obviously, we all want things to return to pre-COVID normal, and school is no exception, but the decision to revert to all day, full capacity, in-person learning in March does have its drawbacks. 

First, the risk of infection for students and their families is still high and returning would make it even higher.  While teachers are going to have had the opportunity to be vaccinated, the overwhelming majority of students will not. Doubling the amount of students in each classroom will undoubtedly lead to an uptick of time spent in quarantine and an increased risk of exposure to COVID during the final months of school. This increased COVID risk likely makes many students uneasy, and adds another stressor to their lives. 

Second, the return to full-day classes represents a drastic change in the schedules of students. With half day classes, students were able to use their asynchronous time to catch up on homework, catch up on sleep, work out, or pursue other extracurricular interests. The schedule change will force students to change the routines and schedules that they have gotten used to during the first 7 months of the year. Such an abrupt and drastic change in schedule could make an already difficult school year even harder for many students. In addition to students, teachers have also adapted to the current schedule, and have found ways to adapt their lesson plans, curriculum, and teaching methods to accommodate the half day schedule. The return to full days also could create an issue for teachers, who now must re-adjust their lesson plans and schedules to fit into a full-day schedule. 

While a return to normalcy is what everyone desires, do the benefits of returning to classes full time for the final two-and-a-half months of the school year outweigh the drawbacks of increased COVID risk and the extreme adjustments required by students and teachers this late in the year? I believe they do not.