Great Debate: Virtual or in-person education? Discussing the risks and benefits of each

October 20, 2020

Students discuss the different educational opportunities for the 2020-2021 school year.

Great Debate: Benefits of All-Virtual learning outweigh benefits of Hybrid

On March 13th 2020, President Donald Trump declared the Covid-19 virus a National Emergency. Immediately after, schools closed down, a travel ban was placed and American Citizens began quarantining for what they thought would only be a few weeks. Flash forward to today and we are still trying to live in this new reality of wearing masks, social distancing and staying at home. With there being around 42,000 cases in the United States, it’s a surprise to many on why school started again for the 2020-21 school year.  Schools across the country are trying their best to make it as safe as possible for their students. From wearing masks all day to keeping a 6 foot distance apart from each other, schools think of that as safe. There are far more benefits to Virtual learning compared to Hybrid learning. These include cost advantages, course variety, career advancement and of course safety. According to weforum.org, students retain 25-60% more material online compared to 8-10% in a classroom. Virtual learning also requires 40-60% less time to learn. Even students that took the online option immensely prefer this way. When I interviewed an all virtual student, she confidently said, “Online school is definitely a better option. I don’t have to worry about the fear of getting sick everyday. I also find it weird that schools are open considering there is a higher number of cases in America compared to when we originally shut down in March.” (Gianna Annetta ‘22).  This is true according to USA today, as children have been returning to classrooms across the country, many new Covid-19 cases are emerging. This has been as much as a 34% increase. These numbers have left schools with no other options aside from going fully online. Once these students go online, the number Covid-19 cases reduce leaving children far more safe. Schools are an important part of community infrastructure as they provide students with secure, supportive learning environments, hire teachers and other staff, and allow work for parents , guardians, and caregivers. By offering essential services, including school meal programs and social , physical, behavioral, and mental health services, schools also help to reduce health inequalities. However, it is necessary to consider if this is the best decision for everyone involved. This includes what will be the best and safest way of schooling for each individual person. In times like these, it is extremely necessary to understand that going to inperson school may not be the safest and most efficient way to learn and go to school. 

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Great Debate: Benefits of Hybrid outweigh the benefits of Virtual learning

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a burden on people of all age groups, even the younger generation. As the start to the 2020-2021 school year approached many schools decided to go with the hybrid schedule for students. This hybrid schedule puts students into two groups and those two groups rotate in-person and virtual school days. Today in the United States, there are approximately 46,459 cases of COVID-19. In NBC’s article on hybrid learning, the staff reporters mentioned that participating in hybrid learning was more dangerous than in-person. This is because of the constant jumping around from virtual to in-person, there is a more likely chance that the students will spread COVID 19. While this is true, many studies have shown the psychological view on this new lifestyle. Psychologists seem to universally agree on the superiority of the hybrid system. Many of these students have not been in large groups of people for over six months and, even if the students are together masked and six-feet apart, it is still crucial for them to experience social interactions. Molly Fitzsimmons, a Sophomore at Bernards stated, “It depends on the type of person you are because some students will like to work at home but others need the social interaction of hybrid learning. It is good that students have the choice.” Most high schools are giving students the choice between hybrid and virtual learning so that the student can do what they as well as their families feel comfortable with. Pediatricians’ comments on this topic differs depending on the area of their work and the age rage they are seeing. As they agree with the news reporters about the danger, they also factor in the psychological view. After speaking to a nurse practitioner, I was reassured that the importance for students to be going to school in person is extreme. She stated, “most students do not have proper support at home and the all-virtual program is very isolating for teenagers.” She proceeded to tell me that the risks of catching COVID-19 are less detrimental at home, but the younger population is at less risk. Most students staying home for virtual learning are not getting exercise. This nurse explained to me that the depression rates are increasing extremely during this time and normal coping mechanisms are easier to participate in when getting out of the house. She said,“Along with the depression rates increasing, the suicide and anxiety rates are going through the roof.” The distractions at school allow students to escape their suffering making hybrid learning a better alternative.

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