Hybrid provides necessary refresher to mental health

In-person learning gives break from distance


Tobias Khabie

When Park announced their plan to go back to school in a hybrid model Oct. 12, I was skeptical that the benefits outweighed the risks of in-person learning. After all, a 25% student capacity would mean some classes would have only 2 or 3 students. However, when I attended my first day of in-person learning Oct. 27, it became clear to me how valuable in-person learning is.

Starting the year off in distance learning proved to be difficult for both students and teachers. While staying safe from the pandemic is extremely crucial, in-person human interaction is important for the mental health of all students and staff. At a time where depression rates are at risk of spiking due to the combination of COVID-19 and winter, having those in-person interactions, even if they’re heavily reduced, is extraordinarily valuable.

Despite having a student capacity at 25%, hybrid learning gave students the opportunity to interact with other students, and teachers were able to begin establishing more of a connection with students, as distance learning made it difficult to do so. Furthermore, this first week of hybrid learning can serve as an experimental run for administration to see what is working and what can be modified. 

One of my major concerns before attending in-person learning was whether or not I would feel safe in the building. However, as the day went on my concerns were alleviated. Every student and teacher I encountered were respectful of the guidelines and practiced social distancing. Furthermore, I did not see one mask down all throughout the day excluding lunch, where the tables were all a comfortable distance apart from one another. Lastly, after every class the teacher would have us sanitize any and every surface we touched. It seems as if the school thought of everything and by the end of the day those worries I came in with had completely disappeared.

It is important to note that COVID-19 cases are at an all time high and are at risk of spiking even more as the upcoming holiday season brings more opportunities for exposure. However, Park has set in place an abundance of precautionary measures, and students who have participated in in-person learning have felt safe, myself included. Also, since the holiday season is around the corner, it is important for students to return now before in-person learning becomes too risky, which is very possible.

While returning to in-person learning may have seemed pointless and risky beforehand, being in school provided me with a much-needed mental health boost. Going forward, it is important to not only prioritize the safety of students and teachers, but also consider the impact distance learning has on mental health and by contrast, the mental health benefits of being in school.