What in the Name of COVID is Happening at State High?

Taken+in+State+College%2C+PA+on+Friday%2C+the+28th+of+September%2C+here+is+Layla+Thornton%E2%80%99s+online+school+set+up.+Here%2C+she+continues+to+face+the+brunt+of+her+virtual+plights%E2%80%94an+experience+that+she%2C+and+hundreds+of+other+State+High+students+are+acquainted+with.+

Layla Thornton

Taken in State College, PA on Friday, the 28th of September, here is Layla Thornton’s online school set up. Here, she continues to face the brunt of her virtual plights—an experience that she, and hundreds of other State High students are acquainted with.

Rija Sabeeh, Features Editor

You’re probably hoping you’ll find the answer to the title of this article within the article. You won’t. 

Although this is an opinion piece, I think there are a few resounding truths you’ll find throughout it, a few resounding facts: We are a week into school. This year is already a mess. Teachers are confused. School administrators have been confused. Students feel nothing…and The administration is probably gonna continue to confuse others. Hell, I’m supposed to be the “all-knowing journalist” and they’ve confused me. So, ever since March, I’ve sacrificed my own brain cells to tirelessly compile all the brilliant questions that have been presented by America’s brightest leaders. 

Do masks really help? Is playing golf more important than dismantling white supremacy? If I’m rich and/or famous, I’m good to party, right? And most intriguing of all, does COVID-19 even exist? Folks, these questions have led our country to be more divided than ever. We can’t decide on the answers, and worse yet, we can’t come together and decide whose fault all of this is—which foreign country, previous president, or marginalized population do we blame for this one?

Despite The Administration being hard at work, scrambling for an answer to that question, many school districts have been pressing them for an answer to an entirely different one: What should this school year look like? 

Well, they’ve certainly received an answer, one that many students understood the implications of. Layla Thornton, a junior at State High, acknowledged that “the best option right now is to just stay home, but I do know [SCASD] would’ve gotten a lot of backlash doing that.” As has become the norm, money and politics come before the health and overall safety of students. The backlash Thornton refers to is dealt both on a community-level, due to misinformation seeping through every media outlet, and also on a federal level, with the possibility of losing school funding. 

Knowing all this, what does online and in-person learning look like? The answer is a simple one: Sad. Forget what’ll probably happen in a week or two, we don’t know what’s going on right now. Thornton, who is doing full-online, says “You can never hear the other students in class speak, and you can’t always hear the teacher.” 

If the class is discussion-based, the inability to hear your peer’s comments becomes near-impossible to navigate. State High’s Alexa Adams, a junior, added to that, stating, “Online you face technical struggles, but in person, you get to…hear much easier.” This brings up another common issue students are facing: inconsistency. It’s hard to get adjusted to a new school year when every day is different from the last, and especially hard when your peers are receiving inequitable instruction, solely based on which option they chose. “I would trade this [online] relaxation for in-person any day now.” Adams adds, “They are definitely more engaging and easy to follow along.” 

Many students seem to agree with this sentiment. It feels as though there hasn’t been much improvement from the emergency school closings in March. After having months to prepare, school administration somehow didn’t foresee the technical issues that online schooling would cause—despite having already experienced them in the spring.

Once again, the consequences of mistakes made by people in power are for those without it to sow. Immunocompromised students are finding themselves being pushed further and further into the margins of school society—all while grappling with a deadly virus that has taken the world—and especially the U.S.—by storm.

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