Time to get rid of the new normal

Schools need to start working their way back in person


Gillian Kapinos

The first case of COVID-19 in Minnesota was found on March 6, 2020. Since that day, we haven’t been able to live life as we used to. Many people have come to terms with the way it’s been, even calling it our “new normal,” but we shouldn’t have to. It’s time to start working our way to the normal we used to know and allow students to start getting back to school. 

Countries like Australia and New Zealand are now free of COVID-19 and are able to be without masks and go about their normal, pre-COVID-19, day-to-day life. Their schools are open and kids can get a full in-person learning environment. They are able to live their lives normally because they listened to scientists early on, closed their borders and followed a strict lockdown order by their government. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there will be six phases of the COVID-19 vaccination plan, phases 1, 1A, 1B, 1C, 2 and 3. During phase 1, healthcare workers get vaccinated, which has already happened. Phase 1A focuses on nursing homes, which should all be vaccinated by the end of January. Phase 1B is for high-risk 65+, which is expected to be complete near the end of February. The general public, which falls into the 1C-3 category, are still unclear on an exact date, but should be upcoming. 

Since most students are in the third phase, it will be a while before all Park students can be vaccinated. So when is the right time to get back so everyone can have the in-person education they need, but also stay safe? 

I believe the best time to go back would be in May for all in-person learning. With President Joe Biden being in office, we may be under a tighter, stricter lockdown, which would help to significantly decrease COVID-19 cases. If we’re able to do that, I think that March–April would be when everything could slowly start to open up again. Having that period to be able to experiment with hybrid learning would be a good opportunity to see if students could continue going to school in-person safely.

We tried hybrid in late 2020, and it didn’t work because the COVID-19 cases in Minnesota were rapidly climbing. If we’re able to go hybrid when the cases start decreasing, that will lower the risk. For hybrid learning, I believe we can go back in late February or early March. If we do go into a stricter lockdown, then cases will definitely be at a safer level for schools to resume hybrid.

Hybrid isn’t horrible, as students were able to attend in-person classes twice a week. But we need to ensure that it’s safe by putting in proper sanitation stations in each classroom and hallway, and making sure that we can stay six feet apart. Otherwise, it’s just as unsafe as going to the grocery store, where everything is touched constantly and there’s no guaranteed social distancing. It’s time to start getting back to the normal we once knew.