Virtual learning is the best option for us now


Ridhima Kodali

With crowded hallways during five minute transition periods it will be hard to enforce social distancing.

Ridhima Kodali, Opinion Editor

1,850 students, crowded hallways and a pandemic.  It is no lie, COVID-19 is one of the deadliest diseases in the world. When Governor Gretchen Whitmer lifted the stay-at-home order in June, the amount of cases per day started increasing exponentially in Michigan. All of this happened with just a few businesses being opened with restrictions.  All of this happened without schools being reopened. We need to stay safe, and getting a good education doesn’t mean we should sacrifice our lives. So virtual learning is the best option for us now. 

Ann Arbor Public Schools is offering three back-to-school options: the A2 student link, classroom connect and A2 virtual. When I heard this I had mixed feelings of excitement and disappointment, as I took math online through A2 virtual. There was more memorization involved than actually understanding or learning the concepts. I didn’t really learn anything. I also knew with the pandemic there have been many worries about mental health, and whether we’ll get the regular learning experience as we would actually go to school. However despite these concerns I understand that virtual learning won’t put us in danger now, going to school will.   

On July 2, there were 543 confirmed cases in Washtenaw County, the highest number of cases in one day after the stay-at-home order was lifted. If a teacher or even a student gets COVID-19, although we would be socially distancing and wearing masks, at school there will still be a huge ripple effect. Especially during lunch when we take our masks off, if we did go back to school. There would also be other hardships when going back to school such as not having much social interaction with our peers. With virtual learning we will have advisory so we can interact with other students more. It’ll be more of the same, “regular” school experience before COVID-19,  versus when we actually go to school.  Another hardship is having to constantly be six feet apart in the hallways- walking to class, transitioning from one class to another and also when we are climbing the stairs. At Huron, with the 5200/6200 hallway, I just don’t see how that is just possible with the five minute transition periods. 

 With virtual learning, not only Huron, but also the entire district will start late and will be temporarily transitioning to block scheduling this year. This is a huge advantage as it allows more time for quality sleep, and helps students stay attentive during live class sessions. Another advantage is blocks will be 105 minutes long so it will allow for us to learn more in-depth virtually. What’s even better is on Wednesdays we have the whole day to finish coursework/assignments. 

 Block scheduling will only be available for the classroom connect and the student link options. Those two options will allow us to be taught by quality AAPS teachers from our current AAPS school we go to (versus the A2 Virtual option which is for people who want to work independently, and complete the coursework at their own pace). We will be getting the same learning experience as going to school. There will also be less worries about whether we are socially distancing, and keeping our masks on. 

Without a vaccine or anything to treat COVID-19, no matter how much money schools spend on PPE, it won’t be safe to return to school. Online is the way to go, we don’t have any other choice.