During a discussion held Sunday, students involved with the Hayes High School newspaper — the Talisman — reported the results of a survey of students that found a majority of high schoolers do not wish to return to the traditional five-day in-person instruction.
The virtual discussion was moderated by Andrew Bourget, a senior and the Talisman’s website editor, who went over the results of the survey that found that of the 457 students that were surveyed, only 24% of students said they wanted to switch to full in-person learning, while 63% said “no” to the change in learning models, and 11% said they were unsure.
Marissa Thomas, a sophomore, said she wanted to return to five-day in-person classes initially, but she has changed her mind.
“As I’ve done more thinking, I think it doesn’t really seem realistic or really necessary to go back at this point in the school year,” Thomas said. “They say they want to go back kind of after spring break, which at that point we don’t have that much time in the school year so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for me to go back at that point. I feel like adjusting class sizes and all the adjustments that would have to be made would be unnecessary for the amount of time that we have left in the year.”
Maddie Richardson, a senior at Hayes, added the school, which has reconfigured classes and hallways to allow social distancing, does not have enough space to bring both cohorts together five days a week.
“Based on how populated our school is already and how the hallways are right now and the different schedules and different learning plans the teachers put into place already, I just think it would be unnecessary just to go back, especially with spring break coming up,” Richardson said.
Jared Shelton, a freshman, agreed with Richardson, adding the dangers outweigh the benefits.
“I don’t really think it’s the smartest idea because if you look at our school population, just in hybrid, the hallways are packed and it’s just not safe to bring everyone back,” Shelton said. “It has its benefits, you know, seeing everyone, but at the same time, you can’t really do it right now.”
Elijah Shireman, a junior, said he’s worried about freshman and sophomore and the tests they have to take under these conditions. He added he would be in favorite of the return to five-day in-person education if it could be done safely.
“If we cannot do it safely, we should not do it,” Shireman said. “If we do find a way, we should go to five days but I just don’t know if it’s logistically possible.”
Students agreed that the move back to five days in the classroom would be disruptive, but Shireman said students would adjust.
“We’ve been doing full in person since kindergarten. I think our systems will kick right back into gear because that’s what our bodies are used to,” Shireman said.
Bourget discussed another aspect of the survey, which asked students if they liked the current hybrid model where the two cohorts of students attend school either on Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday and alternate Wednesdays each week. Bourget said 44% of students said they liked the hybrid model, 35% were neutral, and 7% said they did not like hybrid learning.
Makenna Kilton, a senior, said she believes the hybrid model is as safe as possible but “those things we have issues with already are only going to be compounded if we do go back full time.”
“With the size of our classrooms, having twice as many students in those classes is not possible and is not safe,” Kilton said. “Things we have to deal with right now aren’t going to get better with a full in-person learning model.”
Kilton said she and other students would probably learn better in person five days a week but said the move isn’t 100% safe.
“It’s an impossible situation,” Kilton said. “With the pandemic there’s really no way to make in-person learning full time completely safe. I’m not saying we’re not doing enough, we’re doing the best we can with the global health situation. I don’t necessarily think we can do any better, and we certainly can’t guarantee everyone is going to come out of this safe and health.”
Richardson agreed and said the change to five-day in-person learning would see a spike in cases.
“Our school building cannot hold that many kids again,” Richardson said. “It’s physically impossible to put all those students back into the same building … If we were to go back full time, I 100% believe (cases) will skyrocket.”
Kilton added that the surge from the change in learning models wouldn’t just effect students but would also spread to their families and the community at large.
Bourget said the Talisman conducted a survey of parents and community members and reported that 59% of them want to switch students to five-day in-person education and asked the students why they think parents have such a different answer than students.
Shireman said he can assume parents are seeing their kids having a hard time and want to return to a traditional learning model.
“I don’t think as a parent it would be easy to see your student struggle grade-wise,” Shireman said. “I think that’s where they are coming from.”
Kilton agreed that it’s been hard for parents to see their students struggling, but parents and community members “have a disconnect” when it comes to the issue because they aren’t in the schools.
“They aren’t the ones in the building a few days a week,” Kilton said. “They are not really experiencing what students are experiencing. They might not be happy with the grades but they don’t have the experience of being clustered in a hallway where a couple people aren’t wearing masks correctly and knowing there was another positive case yesterday. They don’t have that experience of being in a situation that is physically risky.”
Kilton said five days a week in the classroom would bring better education but the move “would put everyone at risk.”
The full discussion can be found on the Talisman’s YouTube channel, and more information about the survey can be found at hayestalisman.com.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG. Additional reporting for this story came from Andrew Bourget.