Schools Opening: Opportunity or Risk?

By MOHITA ILAMURUGAN ‘24

Pushing a year and a half foothold on the lives of Americans, the pandemic occupies the minds of students, teachers, and administrations, encompassing their lives and determining their life decisions. Given the events of the past year, EHS will be making its own decision on the return to school in the fall.

So are the students of Edison High School going back to school in-person? 

Yes, students would be “back in person in September” said Mr. Charles Ross, principal of EHS. Ross explained his position and opinions on the school opening next school year and claimed that he was very much ready to open the school. 

He acknowledged the health risk as well. Thousands of students will be set in one place for about six hours a day for five days a week. Ross said that it was his job to keep some 2,000 students safe and academically responsible in this coming school year. He said that some students have made “nominal appearance[s]” and because of this issue, he believes that students must return to in-person education. 

“Academic failure during high school decreases career opportunities for the young people. And, me, I want this to be a strong foundation for people to jump off with to whatever’s next,” he said.

After months of exploring alternative ways to maximize socialization and collaboration in the face of online learning, teachers are ready to return to the classroom.

“I believe we are finally in a place where we can return to in-person learning. In person learning provides students with routine, structure and critical life skills,” said Ms. Sherri Gabra, History teacher at EHS. 

Gabra is willing to acknowledge some of the positives from this year’s experience, but ultimately looks forward to being back at EHS with a room full of students.  

“Although virtual learning has its benefits, I believe in-person learning is more effective,” she said. “Being around your peers, seeing your friends and teachers in the hallways, and being in an environment that is designed specifically for learning will always be better in my eyes!”

Another instructor, Mademoiselle (Mlle) Deana Loria, agreed. 

“Absolutely they should be!” Ms. Loria said. “I am really hoping that by September a lot of the younger population will be vaccinated so that we can return to school as it was pre-pandemic.” She added the threat of learning loss as a concern but claimed that the only learning loss occurred with the students who didn’t show up for classes. She feels all the students who attended class had no trouble learning and picking up information. 

Like many other teachers, Ms. Loria feels a sense of relief with the promise of the fall.

“[I just want] to have kids interact with each other… and not be on screens all day long!” she said.

According to Mr. Ross, the school will be opening next year, but precautions will still have to be taken. In that effort, Here is Mr. Ross’ advice for those students and teachers who are reluctant to be back to school in-person next school year:

1. Do some research about the pandemic and ascertain what the pros and cons are. Do the pros outweigh the cons?

2. Keep masks on.

3. Bring your own water.

4. Sanitize regularly.

5. Social distance.

6. Don’t come into school sick.