Hybrid Learning: Still a Challenge: by Eve Brown-Ryder

With the recent change in plans enacted by the Manchester School District, students will finally be able to return to the building two days a week. Not everyone is excited about this development, though.

In an article posted on November 12th, 2020, the results of a survey about hybrid learning were dissected. As COVID-19 numbers got worse, talk of phasing students into a hybrid learning model died down. Recently, though, there was a meeting of the Manchester School Board and hybrid plans are now full steam ahead. Seniors will be sent back the week of January 25th. Freshmen will return the week of February 1st with sophomores and juniors following suit the week of February 8th. Students will also have the option to stay remote. 

A new survey was sent out to the student body over the course of this past week to see how everyone felt about this development.

As far as demographics go, 17.9% of surveyed students were freshmen, 14.5% were sophomores, 59.2% were juniors, 8.4% were seniors, and there were 181 responses in total. The survey opened with a brief description of the hybrid plan, not unlike the one above, and had five questions in total. Questions three, four, and five asked for grade, last name, and first name (all optional), leaving questions one and two to address the issue at hand. Question one was a simple yes or no about whether or not students planned to partake in hybrid learning. A majority of the survey-takers (66.9%) said no, and only 33.1% said yes.

The second question was in long answer format and asked students if they had any thoughts or concerns about hybrid learning. They did.

The general consensus was that hybrid learning is a bad idea and one primary concern was that students were going to get sick and/or bring it home to their families. One anonymous junior said, “I would be nervous to bring home COVID to my parents, they are older so they could be affected… I think it would be very risky for us to go back to school, and I don’t think that some of the kids would [take] it seriously, it only takes one kid in one class to spread the virus.” There was also a junior named Jeiliz Gomez who is “just trying to protect my family and my baby nephew.”

There was also a lot of concern surrounding safety precautions and a lack thereof. An anonymous junior shared, “If the PSAT’s and the textbook-pick-up at the beginning of the school year were any indication[s], many students will not follow the safety guidelines and will cause an unnecessary spike in cases. Many students were not wearing masks correctly and ignored the “[six]-feet apart” rule, and with the chaos of moving between classes through the halls and everything, there is realistically no way that at least half of the students are going to follow the necessary guidelines to keep others safe.”

On the topic of COVID-19 spikes, rising case numbers was a common theme in many of the comments students left. Amber Simoneau, a junior, stated that “I am concerned about the Increase in COVID-19 numbers in relation to the proposed plan of hybrid learning.” Kaitlyn Jollimore said “With numbers being even higher than they were when the pandemic originally shut down schools, it makes no sense to return to school. It is safer for us to stay home and slow the spread as the vaccine becomes more available than for us to rush things and return to school as soon as we can. Since I am participating in a sport I am not allowed to return. However, I would not be returning even if I was not participating in athletics at Memorial. The hospitals are almost to capacity and bringing students back to school will only make it worse for healthcare professionals.” A final example of case number concerns came from a junior named Khoi Ta. “I think that this is a really bad idea considering that there’s still a lot of coronavirus cases daily right now. Just like other school districts that returned, they had to close it right away because their cases spiked. I think that we should wait till spring to return. It’s useless doing hybrid in my opinion, it’s better and more useful for doing fully remote. I will not be going back to school since my family said it’s a bad idea and I will keep doing remote since it’s much better for me anyway.”

Although there were plenty of other concerns about this upcoming change and reasons given for why students should not return, a handful of students went against the grain and showed support for hybrid learning. Courtney Curtis, a sophomore, wrote, “I would hope that we don’t have to wear our masks 24/7 in school. Maybe we could just wear them in the hallways and once in our seats, we can take them off… I would also like to note that if we go back to school more students will attend their classes instead of having to sit at home all the time. Every student I have talked to has told me they would rather be back in school than doing remote learning. Please consider the students and [the] mental health of all of them.” Alma Castillo, another junior, stated “I personally agree with the idea of ​​going back to school and… I look forward to the day when I can attend… I believe that [Memorial] should support us with what is necessary for our protection such as masks and antibacterial gel. In the same way, I think it is the best idea to let us go back to school since many of us are suffering from depression, anxiety, and despair at being at home and not being able to see anyone.”

Thank you to everyone who provided their feedback. Although not all comments were included in this article, every student should have a say in their education, especially in situations as unusual as this. Although it looks like the majority of students are against hybrid learning and will not be returning, hopefully, those who do go back will stay safe and positively represent Memorial and Manchester at large. 

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