Students nationwide return to school for both in-person and online classes


DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — The 2020 holiday season is officially behind us, and many students are going back to school—whether it be in the classroom or online. The conversation surrounding education in the time of COVID-19 has been ever-changing and as the pandemic continues, one thing is certain: there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

It has been almost a year since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the traditional classroom. Many teachers and students have been educating and learning virtually since March.

“It was very much survive, not quite thriving,” said Wichita teacher Kristi Raehpour.

“It’s hard to learn math online,” said Brooke Sorenson who also teaches in Wichita. “So I’ve really had to scale back what I’ve been doing and figuring out what works for students.”

With the new year comes the third abnormal semester, and heading back to the classroom following the holiday season is being met with controversy.

In New York, students in Albany returned to remote learning this week after the suggestion came down from local county executive Daniel McCoy.

“I know I have made some parents mad, but I stand by what I said,” said McCoy. “As kids are coming back to the classroom after being on break—likely going on holiday gatherings, possibly even traveling to different states, playing in sports, traveling with sports—like I said, ‘What we do today effects us tomorrow.’”

Parents in Portland, Oregon, are marching to reopen schools. They even held a moment of silence for the students across America who have committed suicide during COVID-19 closures.

“If you have a plant—a plant needs water, it needs sunlight, some fertilizer here and there. And if you just decide to take that plant and put it away in a closet and say, ‘We’re keeping you safe..’ eventually that plant will die. Or eventually its ability to produce flowers will diminish. And the same is true of kids,” said Oregon parent Glenda Scherer.

Just across town from that same vigil, parents were protesting in-person learning. Many of them upset that Oregon Governor Kate Brown left it in the hands of individual districts to decide how to operate.

“A vaccine is in sight,” said mother Leeann Moldovanyi. “If we can be patient, we can beat this.”

In Chicago, backlash erupting on social media after Chicago Public School teacher Sarah Chambers—who is also on the executive board for the Chicago Teachers Union—posted poolside on Instagram. Chambers is seen vacationing in Puerto Rico after months of pushing teachers to refuse to return to the classroom. Chambers has since deleted her account and remains silent on the matter, but the union continues to support teachers who wish to stay home.

“Some 5,000 of our members are getting called back into school buildings across the city despite the fact that there’s a pandemic sweeping through the globe, just now reaching its deadliest stage,” said one Union member.

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And in Georgia, teachers just south of Atlanta protested having to work on-site Monday morning after losing a kindergarten teacher to COVID-19 last week.

“Dying was not in the job description,” read one sign held by an educator.

Nationwide, there are about 56 million students in K-12. The scope of these decisions and discussions are significant. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 93% of households with school-aged children have participated in some form of distance learning during the pandemic. The CDC does not take sides in deciding whether schools should stay open or closed, only provides guidance on how to mitigate the spread for the campuses that are open. 

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