In a meeting March 8, the School Board unanimously approved an update to the Safe Learning Plan allowing the transition to hybrid with no assigned capacity. Students who are in Cohort A and B have the ability to switch to Cohort C, and if they choose to stay in their cohort they would attend school in-person four days a week, with Wednesdays staying as a student support day.
After sophomore Lily Fadell heard of the plan for Park to return to school at an unlimited capacity, she said despite the benefits, the urgency was concerning.
“As of right now, going back to 100% is pushing it. Considering the circumstances, not all teachers are vaccinated yet and that’s just putting more people at risk,” Fadell said. “100% has its perks, like seeing your friends that aren’t in your cohort, but then you have to consider the safety of everyone else, and there are obviously going to be kids who aren’t completely following protocol.”
35 percent of students are already in Cohort C and will remain in distance learning for the rest of the year. Those in Cohort A and B can switch into Cohort C at any point. Six feet of social distancing should be done whenever possible, but as more students are in the building, there should be a minimum of three feet between students.
Junior Emelia Johnson said while being back at school with an unlimited capacity will have its benefits, it is better to stay with the 50% capacity model in the interest of safety.
“Right now like we need to be in school but keep it at 50% so everyone still feel safe and if there is an outbreak it is easier to contain,” Johnson said. “At (unlimited capacity) you have like more than half of school there.”
Fadell said the way the schedule is structured currently is the most optimal for the time being.
“Right now, I like how we’re doing two days in person, then Wednesday off and then two days at home. It’s a good way for kids to be able to get an in-school experience but then also have time to be at their house and feel safe,” Fadell said. “If we went every single day, I would definitely feel way more uncomfortable with seeing a bunch of people that I don’t know every single day.”
Johnson said she anticipates the increased traffic in the hallways will result in many switching to Cohort C.
“I definitely think there’s going be way more crowds and I think a lot of people are going to switch back to online because the barricade in the hallways is uncomfortable,” Johnson said.
According to Fadell, despite concerns, she thinks having an unlimited capacity of students will help renormalize in-school education as more students will be in the classroom.
“I definitely think that (unlimited capacity) will help because we’re getting back into more of the routine of how it was last year,” Fadell said. “In 50%, it doesn’t really feel like I’m in school just because sometimes there is only three other kids in my class.”