The Return of In-Person Schooling?

Gabriel Graham

Recently, rumors have spread like wildfire about how, when, or if the Carbondale school district will return to in-person learning, and what that might look like. While nothing has been confirmed yet, the Jackson Co. Health Department and various superintendents have been discussing plans on how to proceed.  

According to Principal Ryan Thomas, the goal has been for a return of inperson learning, “I think everyone can agree that in-person learning is the best model.” he said,  “However, I know our faculty put in a tremendous amount of work this summer and into this school year and created a very strong remote learning model.”  The district will need to make the decision on whether in-person learning is feasible or not with the amount of work teachers will need to put in for the return of students. It would be very difficult for teachers to transition from fully online to in-person in a short period of time, and that is something the district is keeping in mind. 

Some parents are nervous about the students’ return. “I think the students want and need to get back to school as soon as possible”, one parent said, “The fear I have is there is an outbreak and a lot of people ger sick, some seriously.” Even though children and adolescents are at a decreased risk of serious illness due to COVID, they aren’t immune, and they can still be contagious. I’m not so worried about my son getting seriously sick”, another parent said, “but my mother lives with us and she’s immunocompromised. If he brought it back, she would be seriously in danger.” 

Taken by Fabian Schmidt

Students echoed the parents’ concern, “ I think it sounds like a dumb idea to go to school inperson and still have to be on a computer” said Jackson Watts, a Senior at CCHS, “That would just increase the risk of contracting COVID with little educational benefit.” Many students don’t feel comfortable going back to school when they can just get the same education from home. Many students have also grown accustomed to the new online schedule and say they would prefer to keep the current schedule. “I’m really a big fan of the way the week is broken up,” a student who asked to remain anonymous said. “Having Wednesday as a day off in the middle of the week is so great because it gives me time to catch up on homework at my own pace.” 

With the health risks from COVID still looming large and no vaccine available yet, hybridized learning – where students go to school some days and learn from home others – seems to be an acceptable compromise for those who want kids to return and those who don’t. “With the time, effort, and emphasis placed on remote learning, and with an unknown future, CCHS’ mentality over the last few months is one that remote learning will be our foundation now and moving forward.” Principal Thomas said. Remote learning also reduces the risks of a school-wide outbreak. Should a student test positive for COVID, they and anyone else they came in contact with, can learn from home and quarantine without shutting down the school for all students.   

Regardless, there is still no official timeline for when students may return and what that may look like, and there likely won’t be for a while. Governor J.B. Pritzker’s school closure order ends October 12th, and it is unclear whethehe will choose to extend it past that date or not. Unfortunately, a return to how it used to be is still a long way off.