School Return Blues

Image taken by Staff Writer Jon Donohue

By: Gus Cromwell, Photo Editor

On Tuesday, April 26, 2021, Maria Carrillo High School students returned to school in cohorts set to follow a hybridised learning plan. Yet, many students took issue with the communication, the plan, and the process overall. 

One of the major things that MCHS sophomores, including myself, were upset by was the plan itself. Many felt as though even going back to school at all was a mistake. 

“Why can’t we just go back next year and have summer to figure it out?” wondered sophomore Samantha Almirol. 

That exact sentiment was echoed by many students I interviewed who thought that using the summer as a buffer with plenty of time to plan would’ve been a smarter idea. More vaccines will be available and more people would be vaccinated over the summer, making the return safer. Sophomore Evan Jackson lamented the fact that he thought “a lot of students will be worse off, especially with finals.” People overall mentioned that this change, taking place this late in the year, would be worse for them. 

“It just adds on to the anxiety and stress of this year,” stated Sophomore Jojo Wittenberg. “This far in the year people should not have to learn new teachers and their styles.” 

The point about online learning was echoed by many who felt the possibility of teachers changing was unfair to those making choices to stay home due to health reasons, or those who simply could not return. Many of us made decisions before we knew that teachers could sign up to teach simultaneously, myself included. If teachers stay the same, then I have no clue why I went back. Yet students and teachers were led to believe that if they stayed online, their classes could change, which has since turned out to be unlikely. With the information we now have, my decision would have been different. Wittenberg attested that she is only staying home because her request to return did not go through, and the information about simultaneous teaching made her stop pressing the issue.  

Image taken in room E4 by Gus Cromwell

Many have built their lives around online learning. Some people play sports, work jobs, transport family members, and now have very little time to plan. I understand that it was incredibly difficult and that planning a return with little time is hard. If it’s this hard, maybe we shouldn’t be doing it. 

The main issue I had with the process was the communication, or lack thereof. 

“I know nothing about what’s happening,” stated Jackson.

We were in the dark because schedules are tough to find, no one knows what health screenings will entail and cohorts were’nt 100% finalized until four days before we returned. Lack of information and prior notice has made planning transportation difficult. When a colleague at the Prensa reached out to admin at the district office, they got vague responses and weren’t able to come away with anything of substance after weeks of outreach. That interaction sums up how students felt about their interactions with the district as a whole. We are the ones going back, and we know so little. Just recently we learned that 0 period classes would all be online. 

“I feel like the staff and the people telling us we’re going back have no idea what they’re talking about. I feel like whenever they talk about their plan it’s like they’re making it up on the spot,” said sophomore Alexis Allen.

So what has this uncertainty and stress done for students’ mental health? Nothing good. 

“With all of the anxiety in the world right now, I had grown used to the routine of online school. It instilled a sense of normalcy,” said Wittenberg. 

Maria Carrillo sophomore Finn Robertson, Image taken by Gus Cromwell

School was the only real constant in our lives. With the world changing at supersonic speeds and the never-ending fears of COVID looming over our heads, the last thing students and families need is to wonder when school will be. If we can avoid piling on more uncertainty, then why wouldn’t we? The key issue with the process is the fact that there hasn’t been a way for students to express how they feel. 

“They were asking parents stuff, but not us,” Amiriol said.

“Our school preaches listening to students and it feels like we’re being silenced,” said Wittenberg.

 Yet, at the end of the day, the people in control of our education are not asking for the informed consent of those that they are responsible for educating. They are pushing for the return, without so much as sending a survey to us. I feel like a guinea pig in a lab.

“Our education isn’t a test to run on us,” sophomore Gemma Ahern said. Students feel like they aren’t valued by those who have the power to make decisions and change the course of action. Every student interviewed expressed gratitude towards teachers and staff who are stuck in this situation right alongside us. They do not blame those teachers and staff, and feel for them. I’m  just upset with how the situation played out. 

At the end of the day, it’s not the fault of the staff or teachers. It’s the fault of those higher up within the school system who have shown a blatant disregard for how students feel or what teachers and administrators need. They’ve left the administration with a brutal situation and timing has made them to plan a return to school with far less time than they need, and it led them to catch more flack than they deserve. All the while, students were not heard and not informed as to what will happen with our education. We do not have the ability to agree to the terms because they are being “made up on the fly,” as Wittenberg said. We don’t get any ability to agree or disagree, and we can tell. 

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