With the announcement of the return to in-person learning on April 5th, students have expressed mixed feelings about this decision. In a recent poll posted on the M-A Chronicle Instagram, 51 percent of students said, they wouldn’t go back to in-person learning this semester, while 49 percent said they would.
Between March 5th and June 6th, students attending in-person instruction would only attend for about 20 days. Several students said it felt “pointless” and “unnecessary” to re-open for such a short time. Sione Young, a senior at M-A, said, “I wish they would have thought to re-open school after summer break.”
Although San Mateo County is in the red tier, and the CDC has stated that with careful COVID regulations, reopening schools under this tier is safe, students presented worries about the safety measures. Sophomore Ana Chung said, “I don’t want to put my classmates, teachers, or myself at risk of getting or transmitting COVID.” Similarly, Junior Christine Herbst said, “Even though I know that students my age are unlikely to spread COVID or die from it, it is still possible.”
Freshman Clarisse Khodabakchian said, “At first I was really excited, but then I realized that there were going to be some risks, so I’ve decided to stick to online learning.”
Some students expressed their equity concerns with the re-opening, which many teachers also brought up at the last SUHSD Board Meeting. Ana Chung said, “reopening the school is going to put the students from a lower socioeconomic status at higher risk because they can’t afford to put in all the same safety restrictions and precautions as the wealthier students.” Similarly, Christine Herbst said, “I’m worried that we could see an uptick in cases in the M-A community, especially as there is a major disparity in vaccinations between Atherton and EPA.” As of now, almost 50% of Atherton residents are vaccinated, with a contrasting 14% of East Palo Alto residents vaccinated.
“These resources would be better spent improving distance learning for those who are having difficulties, such as helping improve internet connectivity,” added Herbst.
While several M-A teachers and staff members are in the current process of getting vaccinated, Clara Reinhold, a junior, stated, “I’m worried M-A is jeopardizing the safety of the teachers, especially because most of them don’t have vaccines yet. ”
However, according to our poll, a substantial number of students felt optimistic about this decision. Junior Paula Tribulka said, “I am excited but also surprised since the reopening date is soon.”
Melanie Martinez, a junior said, “I’m looking forward to in person school because it’s going to help me create a better routine, benefit me when I need help on homework and it’s going to help me concentrate instead of being on my phone or getting distracted.”
Junior Lamees El Jibahi said she had gotten her parents approval to go back and was looking forward to in-person school to “better my mental health.”