Petition for Hybrid Learning at McCaskey
January 12, 2021
Dear SDoL School Board:
We are McCaskey students writing to recommend that the board reconsider hybrid learning, rather than requiring students to make the binary decision between 100% face-to-face or virtual education. There are two considerations that warrant hybrid instruction over full-time face-to-face learning: equity concerns and safety.
There are many students who feel they do not have a safe option to return to school under the full-time model. Students recognize the value of student-teacher interactions and would like to return to school in some form; however, some are not going to return due to the inability of a full student body to physically distance inside of the McCaskey buildings. They are sacrificing the quality of their education for the safety of their families. Other students feel forced to return to an unsafe school because they do not want to suffer academically and socially, or forfeit their leadership roles. A full time, face to face learning model is not the solution for a large, urban high school at this time, even though some may be advocating for it. The district should be seeking a plan that provides all students some opportunity to interact with their teachers and classmates safely.
If we return to school full-time, the virus will spread; high school students are known to transmit the disease at higher rates than younger age demographics. People will suffer. It is inevitable. Many students know someone, or have family members, who have contracted the virus, some of whom have faced lasting side effects or even death. We are concerned that a significant population of SDoL families may not have the resources to receive early and expensive treatment should they or a family member contract a severe case of COVID-19.
A soon to be published study in the journal Pediatrics (Zimmerman et. al), which has been used to argue for full-time instruction, actually suggests that a hybrid model — accompanied by networking with public health officials and other schools, and other enforced health/safety precautions — can allow for a student body like ours to more safely return to in-person learning. We urge you to offer a responsibly implemented hybrid model to accommodate more high school students safely in classrooms with their teachers.
We understand the complexity of the issue and appreciate your deliberation on our behalf. We know the health and safety of our community and equity concerns are at the forefront of your minds.