Unsigned: Returning to School This Year isn’t Worth It

   COVID-19 dramatically upheaved the school lives of kids across America, and in San Diego, classes still remain online for most students. San Diego Unified School District’s [SDUSD] original plan to kick off partial in-person learning to middle and high school students was postponed, due to an uptick in cases around the holidays. However, after a board meeting on January 12, SDUSD announced that schools would remain closed, as they keep a close eye on cases and vaccination, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune (sandiegouniontribune.com). There is still no official date of reopening, and considering the circumstances, it is not worth it for UC High and other San Diego schools to be reopening at all this school year.

Superintendent Cindy Martin said the virus was “out of control” and as a result, schools wouldn’t be opening anytime soon.”

   There is a reason SDUSD keeps postponing reopening dates: COVID-19 cases in San Diego are still on the rise. Superintendent Cindy Martin said the virus was “out of control” and as a result, schools wouldn’t be opening anytime soon. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “San Diego County’s [COVID-19] rate is currently 70 per 100,000 — and rising” (sandiegouniontribune.com). San Diego is a large, dense city and it’s going to take a while for cases to drop, especially since this most recent stay-at-home order has not been as successful in quelling the spread of the virus. Returning to school this year would only increase risk to students and all of their family members. Not every student can be trusted to stay separated and safe.

   The vaccine is another factor that the district is considering. Though the COVID-19 vaccine is currently being distributed to the first designated groups, it may be awhile before the vaccine comes around to minors, and everyone else in contact with them. According to an informational website about the COVID-19 spread in California, the “best estimate” for the general public to start receiving the vaccine is Spring of 2021, though it is subject to change (covid19.ca.gov). But that’s only when it will become available. It will take months before everyone (who is even willing to get the vaccine in the first place) is vaccinated. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, vaccine rollout in the county has been slow, and there hasn’t even been a COVID-19 vaccine approved for people under the age of 16. This means that a huge portion of students “…will not be vaccinated by the start of the next school year” (sandiegouniontribune.com). It is not safe for students to return to school before at least a good portion of students are properly vaccinated, and it’s clear that won’t be happening this school year.

   Despite the obstacles that come with online learning, some students still express concern and would prefer to stay safe rather than return to school. “As much as I would love to go back to school, I think it is unwise to do so in the current state San Diego is in. Teachers and students should not risk their own lives, and their family’s,” said Senior Naama Mazor. Senior Mikaela Norum echoed this sentiment, stating, “I’d love to go back, but the numbers aren’t looking good. I think we should stay inside.” Some students clearly do not yet feel safe returning to school and worry over the unsafe implications of in-person learning.

   Though some students prefer online school, it’s equally true that online learning has been a serious struggle for many students, and there have been serious effects on student grades as well as mental health. However, it is most important that students and their family members remain safe, and in the current state that San Diego is in, with COVID cases and deaths both on the incline, in-person school is not a safe option (sandiegouniontribune.com). Struggling students have to hold out a little while longer for cases to go down; their lives take priority.

   San Diego students are facing an incredibly tough situation: living in a big city during a pandemic. It can be difficult not to see friends in person every day, and miss out on events such as school dances. But with cases on the rise, the fact of the matter is, it’s just not worth it. Things are looking up, though, with vaccinations ongoing. Things will get better, and it’s important not to lose hope.