Is going back to school worth it?
Updated: Oct 19, 2021
It’s old news that LAUSD has finally decided to reopen schools, and information about the new hybrid schedule has been available as well. (Resources are located at erhs.la.) But with under 400 students opting for hybrid — if you take the current enrollment of 2,359, that’s only about 17% of the population — the majority of students may not be paying much attention. For those who need it, here’s a summary of the changes:
School will begin at 8:30 instead of 9:00 for everyone, online or in person. Online students will spend the first half-hour in what’s now called Homeroom F, while hybrid students check into campus and have breakfast in the classroom in their designated area. Then, the online students log off so their homeroom teacher can welcome the students who are on campus. This check-in won’t be an actual lesson; in the words of Mrs. Keipp, it will be more of a “hello, hello, sit down, how are you type thing.”
Classes start at 9:30, and we will keep the schedule of four periods on Monday and two on each of the following days. However, each period will be slightly longer — about two hours each — except for Monday, which will basically follow the same schedule with periods cut in half.
Of course, hybrid students will attend their classes through Zoom while remaining physically in their homeroom. Online students will have an hour for lunch, while hybrid students will spend half of that time in homeroom, where they will interact with their homeroom teacher, before going to lunch outside. There’ll be a designated eating area for each homeroom.
Homeroom H will be in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while Homeroom L will be on campus on Wednesdays and Fridays. On days when hybrid students are not on campus, they don’t need to log onto homeroom. Mondays will alternate between the two.
However, it will be a little different for the first week of the new schedule, which is the week of April 26. Monday will be online for everyone. On Tuesday, 7th and 9th graders in Homeroom H will come back, and on Wednesday it will be 7th and 9th graders in Homeroom L. Thursday will be all grades, 7th to 12th, in Homeroom H, and Friday is all grades in Homeroom L.
“It’s super important that students understand because you might be an 8th grader in Homeroom L and you won’t go back to school until Friday. For 7th and 9th graders, you’re coming back two days, but everyone else will come back one day,” says Mrs. Keipp.
As for whether or not people should be coming back, Mrs. Keipp says it varies “case by case” depending on “what your family circumstances are, what the student circumstances are.”
She does recommend that students eventually try the hybrid model as ERHS begins to rebound and reopen. “Our government, our county, our communities are doing such a great job of being safer, paying attention, being more consistent with masks, we’re getting vaccinated and things like that,” Mrs. Keipp says. “We have been isolated for too long and we need to get back to interacting with other people, and that is a whole process. So I really commend our students on the hybrid because they’re slowly trying to figure it out.”
Of course, not everyone wants to go back, and Mrs. Keipp respects that. “I don’t want to make decisions for families; every family has a different situation, the ones especially who have vulnerable health categories. I don’t want anyone to feel forced.”
Personally, I’m not going back. All in all, it’s not a bad plan for something that’s beginning in the middle of the second semester. There is a coherent safety system in place: access to weekly testing, a “daily pass” which has your test results as well as a daily health questionnaire which is needed to check into campus, daily disinfecting, and an “isolation area” for any student who shows symptoms to wait in before being taken home. However, it’s not much different from the schedule we have currently. And for me, it’s not different enough to warrant going back.
First and foremost, students wouldn’t actually be in each class in person, only homeroom. To me, this is the equivalent of doing the same thing we’ve been doing the entire year, except in a room with other people. Not that there will be many people in each class — class size will range from 3 to 8 students. As someone who has a quiet place at home for school, even that small number of people would be more distracting than my current environment. Still, being in the classroom may be a quieter environment for other students, without the distractions of siblings or parents or whoever else might be there. Being back in the classroom may also provide more motivation.
The other thing is that the new schedule won’t even apply for that long. Hybrid will only be implemented for 6 or 7 weeks. Plus, hybrid students won’t be on campus every day. I might consider it more worth it if we’d started hybrid earlier. Of course, I can’t blame anyone for that; the situation wasn’t right for schools to open up. But I’d rather just finish this year off and move on.