Editorial: Why Rio needs to return to in-person learning

Mirada Voice: Distance learning isn’t working; re-open the school

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Editorial Board

About a year ago COVID-19 hit the United States by storm, and many students, including myself, were thrust into the world of social distancing and online learning. At first I was excited to take some time off from school and learn from home, however, as time slowly passed by, I began to grow weary of distance learning.  Fast forward a year, businesses and schools are reopening, but Rio Americano students are still learning from home. 

The majority of the school population is children, who are less likely to become seriously ill or die from contracting COVID-19. According to the CDC, “Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.” While some people may be concerned for the health of the teachers, vaccines are currently being released to the public and many teachers have already received their vaccine. To respect COVID-19 guidelines and further prevent the spread, students and teachers can wear masks in classrooms, sanitize frequently and try to socially distance in the classroom by spacing the desks apart. The CDC website says, “The risk for hybrid and in-person learning can be lowered depending on the mitigation strategies put in place and to the to which they are followed.” If teachers are vaccinated and COVID-19 guidelines are respected, there are no major health risks associated with reopening Rio Americano.

While Rio Americano has remained closed, many other schools in the Sacramento area have reopened. Private schools such as Jesuit and Christian Brothers have reopened, and have seen very little cases of COVID-19. After two months of full-time on-campus instruction with 800 students, very few students and staff have turned in positive tests, according to the Los Angeles Times. The reopening of these schools shows that a return to in-person learning will not put students and teachers at risk. If Jesuit and Christian Brothers can reopen while respecting COVID-19 guidelines, why can’t Rio Americano? 

Rio Americano students have been doing online learning and staring at screens for almost a year now. The toll this is taking on students is mentally exhausting and some students find online learning to be very difficult for them compared to in-person learning. Students are also missing out on social interactions with classmates and teachers, many students are being confined to their homes which could have a severe impact on their mental health. According to the New York Times, many doctors and other experts have seen an increase in numbers of adolescents experiencing mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, since the pandemic hit

Why Rio Americano remains closed is an enigma. Students are very unlikely to fall seriously ill from COVID-19, and as the days go by, more and more teachers are becoming vaccinated. Health concerns aside, students are missing out on social and physical interactions and confining students in an isolated environment is having serious consequences for their mental health. 

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