PRO/CON: Should John Carroll return to virtual learning at all?

Madison Elliott and Miel Pearce

PRO: School should be in-person; avoid virtual learning

Between virtual school and in-person learning, it is best to stay in-person for learning. Being in-person provides developing kids with multiple fundamental life skills that need to be present for the youth.

The decision to go virtual would be a result of high COVID numbers. It is fair to say that some virtual days may be necessary for weather, but that only be for an occasional day or two.
Since the holidays have ended, students have finally been able to get back into their regular school routines. If we would have returned to virtual learning for a while after Christmas break due to higher COVID numbers, students would have been thrown off of their normal routines.
Routines are so important for many things for students such as organization, time management, and focus. Students have spent the first half of this school year in-person, so having to transition in the middle of the year could be a major source of stress.
For me, this would be like my freshman year all over again at the beginning of COVID. The confusion and sudden transitions to being online was very hard on me just as it was for many students.
Being at home makes it difficult to find motivation to get out of bed in the morning or be productive since I am not leaving my home. I get almost stir-crazy staring at screens and being in my house all day. It is just draining on my mental health.
While in school, I am able to be around my friends, outside of the house, and in a solid routine. That is important to me to stay in check as it keeps me busy. The overall social aspect is lost when students cannot see their friends, play sports, or participate in extra curriculars.
Another reason I see it this way is due to the updates the CDC has given recently, as well as the changes JC has made with quarantining protocols.
Within the email on January 7 about updated COVID Policies & Protocols from John Carroll to the Patriot Community, quarantining for students lasts only five days rather than 10 days. After that, students may return with double layered masks. Those suspected of being exposed no longer have to quarantine as well.
Beginning in a week, the school community will be mask-optional, another positive of being in-person.
Some may argue that the winter season and upcoming spring season could provoke an outbreak of COVID, and students need time to settle in the beginning of the year, but these influxes have happened before, so it is best to push through while staying cautious.
To me, this is progress where I hope JC continues moving forward in returning to normalcy as best we can. It is only fair to give the school the opportunity to test how these changes impact the school before insisting on a virtual shutdown.
Many students do not want to return to school online because of the things they will lose from in-person school, especially for those who thrive in-person and struggle online.
Being back online would throw people off from having to once again relearn or adjust to being online, missing time in person with teachers and students.  – Madison Elliott

CON: Virtual learning should remain an option during pandemic

The week after Christmas break, several schools in Maryland decided to go virtual for a week or two in order to lower the cases of COVID that rose from the Omicron variant and the holiday spike in cases.

Most of these schools did not exceed a week or two of virtual school and mandated that students get tested during this time period to make sure the infection rate at these schools was lower.
John Carroll decided to stay in- person, despite the high level of COVID cases at our school and the large population of students who had to quarantine at home.
This decision may not have been the best and may not have been made with the best interest of the faculty, staff, and students in mind.
If COVID cases rise to the levels they were after and during Christmas break, John Carroll should go virtual for a short term to slow the spread of COVID and protect the health of the community.
With a rise in cases, John Carroll got more serious about COVID protocols, separating lunch seating, limiting visitors at games, and requiring testing for winter sports and theater, but there has been very little consistent enforcement of correct mask-wearing, and there has been no required, school-wide testing.
With the optional masking beginning on the 22nd, we run the risk of bringing numbers back up.
During the peak of the Omicron variant, there was at least one person — if not multiple people — at home with COVID in each of my classes. Being at school felt unsafe, and I can only imagine how those who are health-compromised felt.
By going virtual during major rises of COVID and encouraging students to wear masks and social distance outside of school, the school would be protecting the health of students and also be ensuring that after the spread, most students would be able to return to normal afterward.
Some may say that a lot of students experienced troubles with keeping routines and feeling motivated last year during virtual school. However, school will go virtual if we have any snow days, so learning to carry out a routine and work at home are important skills for students to learn regardless of whether John Carroll goes virtual for COVID outbreaks or not.
Keeping a routine when at home is not too different from being at school. Students can make sure they’re participating in classes at home, getting dressed in the morning instead of staying in pajamas, and attending classes from a desk or table instead of a bed.
While being at school gives students time to be social and make friends, a short period of online school would not disrupt too much in terms of friendships, especially since students can FaceTime friends, text them, or see them socially distanced.
In-person school gives everyone time to be around friends, and students are excited for upcoming events such as ring, graduation, and prom; however, if these events have to be canceled because of high rates of COVID, most people probably would rather do their part to slow the spread to experience these events in their full form, even if it means spending a week or so doing online school. – Miel Pearce