The State of Massachusetts has mandated discontinuing the hybrid schooling model, allowing only fully in-person or remote for the rest of this school year. As a Hopkinton High School (HHS) senior, I oppose this because it prohibits school systems from deciding what’s best for them. At HHS, full-time, in-person schooling will not meet safety standards for students or teachers. The overwhelming majority of students and teachers I’ve talked with agree.
The state mandate does not consider the COVID infection rate. The CDC guideline on reopening school is fewer than 50 new COVID cases per 100,000 people in a week (0.05%). In Hopkinton schools, of about 4,330 staff and students, there were 22 new COVID cases between March 10-17 (0.5%), an infection rate 10 times greater than the CDC guideline.
At HHS, with more students present every day, there will only be 4 feet between desks compared to 6 feet with hybrid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises at least 6 feet apart to prevent the spread of COVID. When switching classes, the hallways and staircases will be packed, with people routinely bumping each other. This year, one staircase is closed, crowding even more people into the other two.
Since September, most Hopkinton students have done hybrid, became comfortable with it, and even see advantages, such as working more independently. Hybrid will end at HHS on April 26. The last day of school is June 18, and May 26 for seniors. It will be difficult to adopt new routines with less than two months remaining. The school must change seating arrangements, curriculums and schedules in a short time frame, adding stress and taking time away from educating students.
A student can switch from hybrid to fully remote, but not all classes would be available. These students will have to change classes with only one to two months left of school and will lose the social interaction they had with hybrid.
The state’s mandate does not take into account what works best for the students, in my view. All schools are not the same and should not be subject to identical reopening mandates. At HHS, the benefits of fully in-person learning are outweighed by the safety and educational risks. Massachusetts should allow schools to make the best decisions for their own districts, and Hopkinton should continue hybrid to make safety and education paramount.
— Kamala Chuss, Hopkinton
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