In an ideal world the Covid-19 Pandemic would never have occurred. In an ideal world we would be carrying on with our lives as normal. We all want to make the long-awaited return to the way things used to be but forcing things too quickly may result in further damage.
As the first semester began winding down, the push to move schools to phase two became a trending topic, and on February 10th, the school board made the decision for all Helena schools to move to a revised phase two plan. This will go into effect on March 15th for high schools. While returning to a more normal school environment sounds like a dream, this decision was made prematurely and may prove detrimental to our safety and health.
Although state-wide confirmed case numbers aren’t as high as they were a few months ago, we are still racking up numbers on a consistent daily basis. Pushing forward and cramming more students into small spaces for extended periods of time will likely boost our confirmed case numbers significantly.
I can’t help but wonder, “Who is this benefitting?” The parents writing scathing letters to the school board harassing them to pursue a more normalized learning approach seem to be focused solely on pushing their students out of the house instead of what that truly entails.
Unless you are currently a DLI student, you have walked through the halls at Helena High and seen that students do not always maintain social distance. Additionally, if this isn’t your first year at HHS, you are aware of how crowded the halls are in passing period. You know how congested and cramped the hallways get, without being at full capacity, now imagine returning to full capacity and still being expected to stay socially distanced from one another. Seem probable? I don’t think so either.
Many classrooms are not large enough to maintain social distance protocols as it is. Going to phase two means nearly doubling the number of contacts kids have in a day along with doubling the amount of time they share space with others. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Congregating among students is unavoidable, especially at a high school level. The social aspect of school is what keeps most people motivated and attending. Phase one has unquestionably decreased student gatherings, and going to phase two is bound to reverse this trend, increasing the risk of transmission not just for Helena High staff and students but for the entire Helena community.
I’m as bummed about missing out on my senior year as my peers but pushing the envelope for the sake of only a semester more of school seems unsafe and shortsighted. I hate to be “that guy,” especially as the social butterfly that I am, but taking a step back and considering all the variables at play is vital before a poor choice has been made and it’s too late. Oh wait, it has.