To Reopen Or To Not Reopen?

Drawing of children back to school in person and learning virtually. (

Many things have changed schedule-wise for school, with the asynchronous day being shifted from Wednesday to Friday as well as the soft reopening schedule release that noted the days when students in specific advisories would be in-person. Other changes include the dissolving of the Lakeside Bubble, a decision that might stir as much controversy as the Lakeside Bubble itself, as well as a soft reopening that brings students in half-grade segments to school, a decision meant to observe and refine how blended learning works.

Let’s first talk about asynchronous days. Some love them, some hate them. They do give us time to recuperate from overloads of screen time, but it’s also true that asynchronous days still have many technological aspects. They can also be confusing, with assigned work possibly difficult to locate. While it’s a step up from 30 minutes of each class, not nearly enough to make any real progress, it is maybe not the most efficient for learning. The move from Wednesday to Friday isn’t very significant, and it will allow COVID testing then, so there’s no need to miss class. But as we’re not going on campus currently, the shift seems a bit arbitrary. Furthermore, adding Friday as asynchronous makes each weekend feel like a long weekend. It might also mean that there’s more homework on the asynchronous day. Opposed to Wednesday asynchronous, which is usually treated as the day for busy work and is more chill, a few people I talked to agree that Friday asynchronous has more work, possibly because it’s directly connected to the weekend and so there’s a three day span for homework. Taking a screen break in the middle of the week might also be more helpful than having four days continuous class and three days break.

The soft reopening schedule is in my opinion better than the previous one because there are less people in school each day and thus there’s better social distancing, and while balances for some classes may be off, since more than half the class could be in person at one day and only one person the next, it’s not ever going to be perfect. The soft reopening model also acts as a transition period into more “serious” hybrid learning, so that we can evaluate what’s working and what’s not and decide what to do next. But as the soft reopening has been postponed, we don’t really know what’s going to happen with it. Will it be as satisfying as we want? Will things start to get back to normal? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Dissolving the Lakeside Bubble is another thing to think about. It had been controversial for many reasons, the main one being “forcing students to choose between their sport, job, community service commitments and coming to school” as Mr. Noe put it in his 11/2 email announcing the change. Although the Bubble was dissolved, we still need to be proactive in choosing the risks to take in outside contacts. It would be unfair to stop a person from playing a sport or doing community service to go to school, and since the experiences of other schools without the restrictions seem to be positive, the dissolution is not a terrible risk. But caution is still necessary. No Lakeside Bubble does not mean that parties are allowed, or that things may continue as they have been before the pandemic. No Lakeside Bubble means instead a greater degree of individual caution in choosing what is worth going to and what is not. We cannot change what is going on around us, but we can make the best of it. Going to school puts, however indirectly, responsibility on everyone to not risk others’ health. As many people are looking forward to some method of blended learning, it’s not fair for some to put those plans into jeopardy by not being cautious. The Bubble was dissolved because it wasn’t fair to make us choose between different aspects of our lives; in the same way, we are responsible for not creating the circumstances that will force unwanted things onto the entire Lakeside community.

That being said, it might be better to delay reopening until 2021. Currently the administration is telling us to prepare for hybrid learning about once each month, but so far we have not actually gone on campus for the in-person model. We have had three notices for in-person learning and three postponing emails. Though I understand that it’s hard to predict what might happen in the King County area, I personally believe it’s better to postpone reopening until January. As it’s flu season and cases have noticeably gone up at the time of writing, it’s just not very likely that standards will allow in-person school to happen for the next month, and I would rather have a more secure notion of when it might be possible to return. COVID-19 already affects many aspects of our lives, and I think it would be better to have a reachable time to have in-person school to count on rather than reevaluating again and again during the fluctuating fall and winter months. Focusing so much on reopening right now doesn’t have a visible effect.

As opposed to spending more time and resources currently to try and reopen right now, it would be better to set up engaging activities to promote more online social interaction and to help fix problems with remote learning. At this time I don’t think reopening is a priority with everything that’s going on around us. Of course we want to be in school with teachers and friends, but safety comes first, and in these strange months with cases going up caution is the best idea. Like it or not, COVID-19 has changed our lives, and while we can’t let ourselves be beaten by the pandemic, we should also choose our battles wisely. Reopening soon is not in our favor, and there might be more things that would be more impactful to do now instead of focusing on it, so we should wait and redirect our attention elsewhere for the time being until circumstances improve.