How School Should Continue in the Fall: Tyler Seawell

How School Should Continue in the Fall: Tyler Seawell

Tyler Seawell

Dear Dr. Curry, 

Since March 2020, students across the United States have had to adapt to a new way of learning online. Unfortunately, as time goes on and health concerns continue, it seems that this new online way of learning may become the normal for quite some time. This September, it is expected that students will return to school, but it is unknown in what capacity. You, Dr. Curry, will have to make the difficult decision on how schools will reopen, if at all, come September. In making this tough and complex decision, I ask that you consider the following thoughts from a student’s perspective. 

Schools should reopen in a limited capacity in September with minimal class sizes to protect student and staff health, but still allowing students to participate in classes in a more traditional mannerlearning and interacting with others. This plan should include students coming to school one day a week to receive in-person classes that are considered more difficult to learn online, and during the rest of the week, the student would complete classes online. This also allows students to ask teachers questions and clarify instruction, as this is the key to academic success. In order to protect student and staff health, there should be frequent health checks, such as REQUIRED temperature checks, REQUIRED mask wearing, and REQUIRED hand washing. Protecting student and staff health must be the top priority of this school system, and the only way this is guaranteed is through this plan. As Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “I think we better be careful that we’re not cavalier” when assuming that kids are less affected by this virus.    

Students need to return to school, sooner rather than later. There is no question about that. California Governor, Gavin Newsom, was recently quoted in an article called “Under Pressure to Reopen this Fall, School Leaders Plot Unprecedented Changes,” released by Laura Meckler,  

Valerie Strauss and Moriah Balingit on April 27th, 2020. In it he says, We need to get our kids back to school…We need to deal with their mental health and parents’ mental health.” Students and school officials’ health being the top priority of Calvert County Public Schools does not mean that the school system should only focus on physical health; it also means that the school system must focus on students’ mental health.  Confining people in their homes to sit in front of a computer screen for five to six hours a day with no face to face contact with colleagues is only adding more fuel to the fire. We are all human, and we thrive when we are social. However, we must go to school in a way that does not deteriorate our physical health. Dr. Karen B. Salmon, Superintendent of Maryland Public Schools, states the following in her plan for reopening schools: “An event of this magnitude will definitely impact how we provide education to students.” There is a way that allows us to protect students’ physical and mental health. There must be a mix of faceto-face learning and online learning. While this is far from ideal, it is the best plan possible because it allows for social distancing the best prevention against COVID-19 during the current pandemic. Attending school one day a week allows for a maximum of 300 students in a school. Based on my personal experience, a population size greater than 300 will cause crowded hallways, crowded classrooms, and a lack of resources to enforce mask wearing. Physical and mental health must be the top priority of this school system. 

The plan that I have presented, having students attend in person classes one day a week, may seem extreme and dramatic. And I agree, it is extreme and dramatic. But it is what is needed now. The plan to close schools from March 16th to March 27th seemed extreme and unnecessary at the time, but, in retrospect, it was one of the best decisions made by our State Superintendent. I understand that students are most likely not going to get the best education, but education will have to come second to the health and safety of students and school officials. As a possible compromise, it may be possible to open a small area in schools for students that do not have the resources for distance learning, or a distracting home life that does not allow them to learn at home at all.   

 I also understand that in comparison to the other closures and actions that have been put in place throughout the year, that the plan that I have presented may not seem safe. However, as Governor Larry Hogan said in his May 27th Press Conference, there has been steadily declining COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. The actions taken by our national, state, and local leaders have caused us to be in a much safer place than we were three months ago. Mask wearing alone helps protect others from the virus, and in the case that an uptick in hospitalization and deaths was to occur, facetoface teaching can cease and we can return to online learning. We have the resources to do so. The pros far outweigh the cons. We can make this work. 

Dr. Curry, please consider my plan to have students attend in person classes one day a week with required mask wearing, hand washing, temperature checks, and social distancing. This is the best plan possible because it allows for mental and physical health to be dealt with as students will be able to be social but in a limited capacity. Please consider this my “call to action.” This plan may seem extreme during normal times, but these are not normal times, and currently, this is the only way to protect student and staff health.  



             Tyler Seawell 

CHS Class of 2022