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Data from the New Yor Times

Should We Go Full-Remote?

December 11, 2020

Two Round Table staffers grapple with the issue of whether Stamford Public Schools should temporarily close due to COVID-19.

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Staying Open is Still the Best Option

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With the recent spike in COVID 19, many are wary of Stamford Public Schools (SPS) staying open. Other school districts surrounding Stamford such as Darien, Trumbull, Waterbury and  Newtown have announced at least partial closures in recent days.  However, the question is, does Stamford Public Schools really need to go fully remote for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year?

The answer to that question is no. A large misunderstanding that people have in regard to the closure of school districts is that they were due to the number of cases accumulated, when, in reality, this was largely due to the issue of there not being enough staff present for in-person learning. In abiding by teachers’ union demands, schools are to give teachers the option to teach remotely or in school. Because of so many teachers being remote in these school districts, they’d have no choice but to go fully remote. 

But in the case of SPS, we have yet to reach that margin. Therefore, with the opportunity to stay open, more students are guaranteed to be engaged in one way or another. 

One vital reason as to why we need to stay open is for the benefit of students with physical and mental disabilities. One of the many things that schools provide in Stamford is classes and groups for those who are mentally disabled. This is not only assisting the students, it’s also assisting the parents and/guardians. Students who also utilize school-based Health Centers would also be at a disadvantage if we were to close. The health centers provide basic care and utilities such as prescribing medication and providing access to nurses and psychologists.

Another vital issue in regard to closing would be the loss of interactivity. Many students focus better in school where they have the direct help of their teachers and peers. Many teachers also benefit from the interactive aspect of school as well, in that they are allowed to keep better track of students and how they perform in class. Contact between students and teachers all in all is much more fluid and genuine in person. And as students whose’ ages range from 4-18, it’s still vital for our growth and development to have this in-person contact. 

To be completely frank, I understand that being in the midst of a global pandemic, keeping our students, staff, and faculty safe is of the utmost importance. But rather than shutting down, there are effective ways to keep students and staff of SPS in school safely. First of all, keeping our mask mandates and social distancing rules have been proven effective at slowing transmission nationwide. Our hybrid plan of splitting student bodies and alternating days has also prevented widespread outbreaks. And if it is the case that cases begin getting too high, rather than shutting down for good, we’d shut down for 2-3 weeks (on par with teachers’ union demands) to weed out the positive cases and get back to school safely and ready to learn more efficiently.

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Full-Remote Learning is the Safest and Best Option

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    Back in March of this year when the pandemic first started, schools were shut down immediately; the only difference between now and then is that there are nearly 200 times the number of coronavirus infections now then there were on our first day of remote learning in March. What healthcare professionals are worried about the most is that if too many people contract the virus, there might be too many people infected and not enough professionals or space to take care of them. 

    I think that if we close schools now it will allow us to control the spread of cases in the area, so that when we come back to school students will potentially be able to play winter sports and begin to get back to normal. But that can only happen if we go remote to prevent the spread of the virus. 

    Although in the classroom students desks are 6 feet away and the teachers are making sure that each student keeps their masks on and their distance from each other in the classroom, no one has taken into consideration the hallways. The hallways at Stamford High are jam-packed with students, especially coming out of the lunch room. There is no possible way for the students to separate themselves six feet or more from each other. This is very dangerous, and also increases the number of people who come in contact with each other. 

    Another issue is that now more than ever, teachers are absent because of their own children. This is because many of the other schools around our area have already closed due in precaution to stop the spread of the coronavirus. In the Stamford Public School district, there is at least one teacher out at every single school due to a variety of issues.

This not only cripples the learning for the students, but also presents another problem: there are not enough teachers and substitute teachers to provide for all of these classrooms. If we go all-remote, teachers could teach remotely just as they did back in the spring, which seemed to work out pretty well for many of the students. I also think that going all-remote will enable teachers to be more organized and also be able to teach the students the same things on the same days to end any confusion. 

Going all-online will also give teachers more time to respond to their students and help them out with anything that they may be struggling with. That is one big thing that I think is a problem with the hybrid schedule. Many of the teachers, if you are on your remote day and you email them because you are having trouble, wont respond to your email until much later because they are too busy with their students in class. But if we were all online, there would be no issue preventing teachers from responding to student emails and questions about lessons or assignments. 

Overall I think that our best option, not only for our safely, but also to better educate the students at the high school, is to go all-remote at least until January when winter sports are supposed to start up to give the athletes a chance as well to have their season, just as many of the fall athletes did.  

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