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Solangel Gonzalez: Students need to go back to school as soon as it is safe

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) An empty classroom at Liberty Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 30, 2020.

Due to COVID-19, more than 70% of schools in the United States are closed and many schools are resorting to at-home online schooling. The coronavirus pandemic has caused U.S. education to suddenly become full-time online schooling from home. In most states, including Utah, many schools have closed for the rest of the school year.

This has affected and overwhelmed the lives of students, teachers and parents. Teachers have had to rush putting lesson plans online and figuring out how they are going to “virtually” work with students and parents. Also, parents are struggling to balance working, either from home or another location, while teaching their children. And, with the demand for citizens to rush back to work May 1, they will have to leave their kids alone or put their older children in charge.

Many people believe that online schooling will be the new learning system after COVID-19 is gone, but I think we should go back to traditional schooling because low-income students will have access to all resources, including meals and devices and supplies needed for assignments and projects. It can also affect students social growth and development.

Some parents say that home schooling is better for students because they would like to be in control of what their students are learning, and they can have them interact with people of their same beliefs. According to The Coalition for Responsible Home Education, "Many homeschool parents and leaders argue that the socialization children receive in school is unnatural and actually harmful, and that socialization is best gained through life experiences that center around the family, and should include interactions with those in a variety of age groups.”

This tells us that there are many parents who believe that going to a traditional school is not good for their kids because kids can get bullied and learn things that their parents don’t want them to. Despite all these claims, traditional school provides more experiences for children and helpful resources to many families.

It would be better if we went back to traditional schooling after the COVID-19 pandemic is over because there are several ways in which the school district helps students and families.

School districts help low-income families get the resources that they need, such as providing breakfast and lunch for students every weekday. Districts and certain schools also have food banks to help families in need. Large numbers of children eat school breakfast and lunch every day and depend on that food.

In addition to meals, traditional schooling provides devices and supplies, such as computers, books and paper, that students need in order to complete assignments and projects. Traditional school also provides children with social growth, development and independence.

Students need traditional schooling because of the social interaction it gives them. If they stay at home for too long it can stunt their social growth and development, which also can lead to insufficient learning. When students finally do have to talk to someone or be social, they may feel uncomfortable and awkward, and they may not understand social situations or different kinds of humor, sarcasm and slang.

If Utah wants to do the best for their students, they need to restart all schools once everything is safe. That should go for all schools in the U.S. and worldwide. As a community, we need to reach out to Gov. Gary Herbert and the superintendent of schools to assure us that we’ll be back in school once we are in the green zone. This pandemic has shown that schools are critical now more than ever, not only for the learning of students but also because they provide support for our entire society.

Solangel Gonzalez is a student at Innovations Early College High School, Salt Lake City

Solangel Gonzalez, Salt Lake City, is a student at Innovations Early College High School.

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