Omaha Public Schools announced the return to full in-person learning this past Tuesday. This means all students in OPS will have the opportunity to attend school five days a week, without the Family 3/2 model as an option. The alternative would be for students to stay completely remote. For high school students, in-person learning begins on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
I was surprised at this decision, especially due to the COVID cases in Nebraska right now. The number of confirmed cases may be lower than they previously were, but Nebraska is still in the red zone, meaning a positive test rate upwards of 10 percent.
I am slightly hesitant to return to school five days a week, simply because of the number of students at Central. I know social distancing will be difficult, especially in classes with more than twenty students. We simply do not have the space to social distance properly.
Another concerning factor is the possibility of students not taking mask-wearing properly. School will likely still feel safe as long as masks are kept on during class, but for those taking a lunch, how will that work? There certainly will not be enough room to social distance properly during lunch periods.
I also feel that it is unfair to the teachers, who could possibly be putting themselves and their families at risk, to be exposed to so many students at once. Teachers do not have the option to teach remotely like students. What are the alternative options? To quit? Be fired? Maybe they do have a say in this decision, but I can assume they would feel pressured to attend school every day and teach.
Students who want to play school sanctioned sports must also physically attend school. This is a problematic choice to make for high-risk students who want to stay active and involved. With the 3/2 model, student athletes were not exposed to as many students and it would be safer for them to attend school and participate in sports. Now, they are forced to make a serious decision: safety or extracurricular involvement.
I want to play soccer in the spring at Central, so I must attend in-person school. I am not a high-risk student, but I am still hesitant to put myself and others at the risk of getting COVID. So much is unknown about this virus, and although it may seem like a small cold for many teenagers, the lifelong effects have yet to be discovered.
So, take this as a reminder to always be cautious: wear your mask, social distance when you can, wash your hands frequently, and take the lives of others into consideration before you make reckless decisions! It matters, trust me.