Kenosha, WI — Two weeks after winter break ended for most schools around the country, some K-12 districts, including Indian Trail High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin have decided to go virtual due to the increased COVID-19 cases.
The inconsistency could negatively affect students.
As students flocked back to school, cases steadily increased causing Indian Trail High School to switch to virtual schooling after their winter break. School was in session for four days before Kenosha Unified School District made the decision earlier this month to temporarily switch.
For 17-year-old senior Jayden Kimpel, the week-long move to virtual set many students back and she lost the motivation to complete school work. She was hoping it wasn't a repeat of what happened the previous two years.
Academic studies have shown that random or scheduled disturbances, such as moving to virtual, can have both short and long-term effects on a child’s academic performance. These studies also bring light on how districts can help families adjust to sudden changes during the school year.
Kimpel feels she gets unproductive and has trouble keeping focused on lessons due to the many distractions that are at home, especially since she can keep her camera and microphone off on the call.
“It seems like a lot of the lesson plans are more thought-out and interactive,” she said about in-person teaching. “compared to virtual where the educator would share their screen, and nine times out of ten get frustrated with the students over technical issues.”
She fears that the unreliableness caused by COVID-19 could easily end her senior year short.
Kimpel believes KUSD should have extended winter break longer or gone virtual right away to prevent cases from spreading at school. She said she feels KUSD’s slow speed negatively affected students.
“It was a disappointing move on KUSD's part, especially since they would much rather put their reputation rather than the students first,” she said.
IT senior Elly Herrick said she initially was excited about her school's move to virtual schooling because she had been feeling burnt out, and wanted a break. Then she realized the true gravity of the situation.
“Being virtual was miserable for me last year because I felt like I had no connection to my teachers and peers which in turn made me have no connection to what I was learning,” the 17-year-old said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average of daily COVID-19 cases increased 33.2% as of Jan. 12. The Omicron variant is stepping into the spotlight, taking up approximately 98% of cases.
Because of the increase in cases, Herrick said she felt disappointed with KUSD’s speed to act.
“I think we should've moved to virtual as soon as COVID-19 spiked during winter break,” Herrick said. “Going back to school for that week, was such a bad move because students who had COVID-19 went to school, and all students could think and worry about was when and how they were going to deal with going virtual so close to finals.”
And while this virtual break allowed students and teachers to quarantine without missing school, the break might not have been long enough to decrease rising cases.
Herrick believes the big lesson to learn from is that COVID-19 isn’t a trend that’s going away.
“I think that the KUSD board is in a hard spot because it's hard to please everyone,” She added. “But I feel that they are so wrapped up in trying to please everyone that they care more about that than actually considering the safety of the students and staff that actually go to the school.”