Should We Stay In Person?


Constant fear and anticipation of being sent back to online school is becoming more and more present in everyday life. After spending four days attending online Zoom classes following winter break, students were reminded of the struggles of the virtual learning setting.

The decision to go online was due to high cases among staff. But we are seeing high numbers of cases throughout schools on a day-to-day basis. Does this mean we could go back online again?

Not only does returning to online learning make it difficult for students to get their work done and learn, but it’s also partly traumatic to go back to that. Students developed new habits, like having a lack of structure throughout the day and constantly relying on social media, over the course of the last year. By going back online for a few days, we were quickly reminded of that reality and the feelings that came with it—many of them negative.

Online school lacks the social aspect and the ability to connect with people. It takes courage to unmute while on Zoom to ask a question or share out, and not everyone is willing to do it. The alternative, Zoom chat and sending emails, leaves more room for miscommunication and isn’t direct interaction.

Learning in the classroom is more comfortable and provides an ideal environment for getting work done. It can be difficult to create a productive learning environment while at home –– a space that isn’t necessarily designed for that. There are a lot of distractions and ways to get off task like younger siblings, food and electronics.

During the fall, we adjusted to our new way of learning in the building. As our schools became full again, students slowly acclimated to the new classroom norms and wearing a mask all day. It certainly isn’t the same as it used to be, but it has improved to last year’s format.

It’s draining for students and teachers to go from seeing faces every day to the black zoom boxes again. Although schools are closing again for our safety, we shouldn’t have to go back to learning like this. Zoom classes aren’t nearly as productive as in- person learning and they create complications: increased absences, stress and anxiety.

A big downside to taking days off school for administration to plan out the online format —like Jan. 3-4— our year may have to bleed into the summer. This is due to the fact that all six “snow days” that AAPS sets aside for us at the beginning of the year have been used up. Making the sudden switch from in-person to online takes a lot of planning and effort. Which seems excessive when it’s only for three days. Staying in the building almost seems easier.

Restaurants in Ann Arbor allow customers to dine in, so why can’t masked students sit in a classroom and learn? Schools should be the last thing to close.

Although there are a lot of cautions with attending in-person school in the building, it has become a place of comfort and security for many students. Most importantly, we can interact with our peers and have a more normal learning experience. Being in the building also provides access to various resources that aren’t as easily acquired while virtual.