Yes. Returning fully in-person is unimaginable yet crucial

Jeffrey Dratch, Assistant Opinion Editor

Since the first day of hybrid learning on Oct. 6, 2020, many people have enjoyed going into school two days a week. After many successful months of the hybrid learning model, the decision has been made to go back five days a week on April 26. While there are certainly some downsides, going back five days a week will present additional hands-on instruction and more social interaction.

While there have been talks about what the future of the schedule looks like, District Superintendent Gregory Martineau sent an email to families on March 10 notifying them that Algonquin would be going back five days a week starting after April break in order to provide a more comprehensive educational experience as COVID-19 cases continue to go down. As said on the district reopening plan, administrators have been preparing for going back fully in-person since January, and are adding additional protocols to ensure the safety of staff, students and families. 

As most of us have seen, we have all gotten used to being less social during the pandemic, but there are additional developmental effects that could be in place if things never return to “normal”. As mentioned in the New York Times, it can be unimaginable for many teens to be told that they simply can’t see their friends. There has also been an increase in depression and a lack of motivation since the March 2020 lockdown, and going back fully in-person will hopefully help student’s mental state. However, it is really important to be in-person five days a week so we can spend more time around our peers, and not have to deal with tough things such as completing tests and quizzes from home on Zoom, where many distractions are present.

Talking about my future in high school prior to lockdown, I imagined my freshman year to be filled with parties and fun, not staying socially distanced and worrying about getting family members a vaccine. While masks are here for the foreseeable future, and parties aren’t happening any time soon, going back to school five days a week is one step closer to the high school experience we expected to have. Waking up at 6:00 a.m. every day and going to school seems almost impossible and really scary to return to normal. But it is so important to return and see friends that we haven’t talked to in over a year.

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Many of us, including myself, have a fear of the unknown, with the unknown being what it is going to be like when we are fully in-person. Many might look towards what’s logical, it simply doesn’t seem possible to return to school five days a week during a pandemic. In some ways, it is impossible to stay socially distanced all of the time, and there is still a lot that we don’t know about the future state of Algonquin. COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts are at an all-time low, with under two thousand new cases in the state each day. At the beginning of the school year, I was not very confident that the school was going to stay in the hybrid model, but the free testing has restored confidence in many students, and I look forward to seeing success when we return.

With months of planning and all of the necessary precautions put in place by administrators, going back to school five days a week will soon be a possibility. While it can be scary to be in school with over 1400 students and staff full time during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to progress and start seeing each other.