I have been attending Meriden Public Schools my whole life. I am grateful for every opportunity that I have been given by my district and all of my teachers. A year ago, a thought like not going to school wouldn’t even be an option. As a senior, I need as much time in the classroom as I can to prepare myself for higher education. Lately, however, I have been risking the health of my family, and my community by attending school.
We have been told that school is the safest place to be and that COVID-19 is spreading within the community, not inside our building. I watch as school districts around me close, and I am still sitting in this classroom taking a risk, wondering if I’m going to get called down to quarantine.
We are still open, despite there being far more cases than there were in March. We were told that if we didn’t feel safe attending in-person, then we could go to full distance learning, but taking UConn and AP classes, the option of distance learning is not feasible when my classmates would be getting in person lectures and I would only be learning through monotonous Khan Academy videos and 30 minute Google Meets.
Even in person, we are only in school for half the week, with each class being less than 40 minutes. The class is over before we are even given the chance to take in the material. There are times when I am meeting with my teacher for less than an hour a week, the rest of the week is made up of scavenging for assignments on Google Classroom, or watching videos explaining the material.
There are also times where I have less than three classmates in my my class, which disrupts the argument that students need the sociability of their peers to learn, especially when my peers are under school sanctioned quarantines. The education during these quarantines are subpar. In-person students under quarantine have to figure out how to keep from falling behind, as they are not present for lectures, but also aren’t enrolled in full distance learning.
The solution is to go entirely digital, having Google Meet or Zoom lectures, accompanied by online work. Unlike March, we have adapted to online learning. We know what we have to do and what works. We have already addressed problems of food insecurity in our community through food distribution programs, something we have done before COVID, as well as issues with WiFi and access to technology, which have been solved in the past with school-provided Chromebooks, WiFi boxes, and laptops.
There is no reason why Meriden Public Schools should remain open with the number of cases on the rise.
Daniel Hand is a senior at Meriden’s Platt High School.