I’m not going back

Kelly Cantarero-Flores

Wilson is taking a big risk with slowly transitioning for an in-person return in February. Like many others, I am not a big fan of virtual learning. The idea of staring at a screen for eight-plus hours, being stuck at home, having loads of work, and not being able to socialize or interact with others physically is an immense issue. Yet, right now it is the safest plan to pursue. 

I have decided that, for me, it is not worth going back to school in-person in February. First of all, those who do decide to go back will still have to sit in front of their computer screen during their classes. The only thing that will change is their location, because they would be in a classroom instead of home. 

Secondly, students will only return for half a day. After their shift, morning or afternoon, they are required to leave the building and go home to finish the rest of their classes from home. That may sound fine for anyone that lives near the school area and is planning on going, but what happens to those who live outside of Wilson’s school boundary? They would most likely not make it in time to get from one place to another, which can put more pressure on those students. 

Another factor that has impacted my decision to continue online learning is transportation. Staff and students get to and from school through different means. Walking, metro, bus, driving, and biking are the most common. Metro has made masks or, as they call it, “facial protection,” mandatory for anyone using their services. I have been on the Metro once and rode the bus twice during the pandemic. From personal experience, I will say that the busses are crowded and the Metro can be too. This is concerning because it breaks the social distancing restrictions. The point here is students, teachers, and staff that use these public methods of transportation may be at a higher risk of getting sick from being exposed while traveling either to or from school.  

An equally important element to consider is our families. Students may live with elders, young children, and people who have health conditions that make them more vulnerable to getting sick. The virus can be hidden in any corner, a silent and deadly attacker. We (students and staff) would not like to “push our luck” and put at risk our health and that of those we love and care about. 

Nevertheless, going back into the building might be the light inside of a dark tunnel for students who are homeless, live in difficult households, and don’t have food security. Not all of us have the privilege to know we have a warm meal to eat, feel safe in our own homes, or even have a place to call home. For these students, in-person school can be a safe environment for them. School to them might represent an escape from the difficult reality they face each day, distracting them with an alternative environment and knowing there are staff and teachers that care. School just may be their only option, a leap of faith towards something better.

In my case, I have decided not to return to school in-person in February.  I have already waited this long; what harm can it do for myself to wait a little more? But unfortunately, waiting is not an option for everyone. As much as I would love to be back to the school routine inside the building, for now I would prefer to continue in this online learning safe space. I like to see myself as a risk-taker, but in this situation, the risk is not worth it.