Wyvern’s Tale

Editorial

With Thanksgiving behind us and having already experienced the first flurries of snow,  cold and flu season is officially upon us. This is occurring while more students are getting together outside of school in indoor spaces without masks compared to last year, despite the fact that we continue to battle a global pandemic.   

Unfortunately, the number of COVID-19 cases in Connecticut this year in comparison to last year is significantly higher, with 118,754 total cases having been reported by The New York Times as of December 1, 2020, in comparison to the staggering 425,275confirmed cases recently reported as of December 3, 2021. Despite the fact that the number of cases this month are almost four times as high as the number of cases reported this time last year, as well as the fact that the first omicron case of the virus was detected in Hartford Country on December 4, many of the protocols and accommodations at KO that were put into place last year are no longer available today, specifically the option of attending class via Zoom in the case of an illness of any kind. 

Given the fact that there is no longer an online option, many students are coming to school with colds; having to miss up to a week of school because of cold symptoms is just not possible for the vast majority of students due to the sheer number of tests, quizzes, homework assignments, papers, and projects that are constantly assigned, as well as other important school obligations and extracurriculars. Therefore, more often than not, students who are not feeling well ultimately decide that they have no choice but to attend school or else face the consequences of what feels like an infinite pile of missed classes and assignments. Thus, the option for attending class via Zoom should be reinstituted this winter in order to keep our school community safe.

However, I do recognize the reasons why online classes were done away with in the first place; the most important reason was that the system was abused by many. For instance, some students got into the habit of feigning illness on the day of a test in order to take the assessment in the comfort of their own home. This posed problems related to academic integrity and to more and more students choosing to stay home and complete their schoolwork in bed rather than in the classroom. 

Another issue that plagued Zoom school was the inconvenience of the system at large. Teachers had to learn how to set up extra webcams, as well as alter their lesson plans and assignments to accommodate those students who opted to learn remotely. In addition, students who were learning in-person faced the challenge of trying to work effectively with their peers via Zoom, making the learning process, as well as the process of connecting with others in a collaborative school environment, much more difficult. 

Although there are problems associated with online learning, I believe these should be balanced with the need to keep students and faculty in good health as the school year continues. Therefore, I propose that the option for learning online via Zoom be reinstated temporarily, but with a few restrictions. 

For instance, students could be allowed only five days per semester of online school so that students can’t take advantage of the system by staying home whenever they please. In addition, if students stay home from school and attend class via Zoom on the day of a test or a quiz, taking the assessment online should be prohibited, and the student should use a free period to make up that assessment when they return to school in person; this would reduce the risk of academic dishonesty.

While the first three months of the school year ran successfully without the option of online learning in place, COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise as we are all forced to move our activities indoors. As we descend into the frosty months of winter while confronting both cold and flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to proceed with more caution than ever so that we can continue to attend school in person; ultimately, this means taking the necessary precautions and instituting the necessary protocols that will keep everyone in the KO community safe and healthy.