We Can Have Virtual School When We Need It


Photo by Donna Gatzke

When Covid-19 spikes, going online may be our best option. The Omicron variant peaked in January and, because it’s winter, everyone is staying inside more, especially while eating lunch when everyone removes their masks. I would prefer to be in-person, but I don’t mind being online for short periods of time if the activities are engaging. There are also other aspects that make online school appealing, such as sleeping in and being able to eat during class.

The foremost reason to stay home is the Omicron variant. According to the official Washtenaw County government website, during the week of Dec. 11, 2021, Washtenaw County had approximately 1,093 new COVID-19 cases. By the first week of 2022, that had grown to 3,972 new cases.

But we are all tired of hearing about the latest variant and how it’s more contagious than the last. Let’s look at the other benefits students may get from staying at home.

Generally, my day starts roughly between 6:45 and 7:00 a.m. with the alarm on my phone going off. I have to be out the door by 7:30 a.m. to pick up a friend — although that typically doesn’t actually happen until 7:45 a.m. 

With online school, my commute time is cut out. I can get up at 7:15 a.m. or even later. I can eat breakfast during my first class instead of grabbing a baked good on my way out the door because the kitchen is only three steps away.  

Additionally, less time spent traveling to school equals more time for students and staff to do work. Instead of being in the car, I can study French or Precalculus. I can also stay up later to do work because I get to wake up later. 

Staff and students are burnt out. For some people, having that extra time and not having to rush around can make everything more calm and laid-back. It gives us a much-needed breather, while still furthering our education. 

I know it’s not ideal. Nothing about this situation is ideal. The district has tried to make it better for everyone by offering Chromebooks and hotspots to everyone who would like one, and they have persisted to provide breakfast and lunch for those who want it even when we weren’t in person. We have Mental Health Mondays and there is a mental health hotline on the back of our student IDs. We have staff and teachers, especially Forum leaders, who care and will help if asked. We have been using Schoology and Zoom for almost two years now. We know how to use them for the most part. We’re not completely in the dark. 

No one was really given time to prepare for Covid-19. If students, families, staff and administrators had been given the time to prepare physically and mentally, this transition would have been smoother and perhaps not as painful. 

If we had a virtual week every once and while that was planned months in advance, even when Covid-19 will hopefully be over, maybe it wouldn’t be so frustrating. We would feel like we’re in control instead of figuring it out as we go.

We have to accept that our world is ever-changing. We are tired. We don’t want to adapt anymore. We want to move on from this traumatic period in our lives. But we can’t. We have to continue being flexible.