PRO/CON: Returning to campus

Should small groups be allowed back to DBHS for in-school practice?

November 12, 2020

Pro: Returning can foster in-person relationships

While many school districts in Southern California have already begun reopening schools and bringing students back into classrooms, Diamond Bar High School is taking a moderate approach and only permitting athletics and performing arts organizations to return to school in small groups. 

With this new development, sports teams and performing arts groups will be able to return to their previous routines for the most part, which is much more efficient and productive than training via Zoom, as well as beginning to refine their condition for performances and competitions.

One of the main concerns surrounding the return of these small groups is the safety hazard that could lead to outbreaks among students. But with proper regulations and protection measures applied, which the school will be adhering to, the possibility of this happening is relatively low. In fact, an international study done by the CDC stated that schools reopening in other countries found that there were low rates of transmission amongst students and staff when the correct safety procedures were in effect. 

Being at school will also allow students to experience being on campus after having attended school from home since March. Not being able to learn on campus has taken an immense toll on students’ education, not to mention the impact on their mental health. Being in quarantine has been proven to increase stress and anxiety levels due to the dull environment and lack of social interaction. With the ability to go back, a few students may be able to experience some semblance of normality once again.

Returning in small groups will also allow students to interact with their peers again to some degree. One of the main benefits of high school is the social aspect; learning how to work and interact with others. It is these interactions that guide our development and prepare us for collaborative work outside of school. 

This crucial element of the educational experience has been crippled by the distance learning format we now use in school, which prevents us from forming or maintaining relationships with our peers. By being allowed to return to campus, even the small amount of interaction allowed may go a long way.

I know for one, that being away from my peers has definitely made school life more of a bore. Not being in Diamond Bar’s notorious competitive atmosphere that I used to fuel me with passion and motivation to do well in school, has left me the most unmotivated and detached I have ever been. 

Some may argue that Zoom calls are a passable substitute for in-class collaboration, but doing things over Zoom is almost entirely incomparabile to completing them in person. Things are so much more efficient and timely when they’re worked on by a group that’s physically present. 

Take the Dance Company, for example. It’s incredibly hard to choreograph a dance and teach it to a group of students over a Zoom call, especially without them being around to help one another as they normally would. Technique and quality of the performance is jeopardized when conducting routines and rehearsals over a Zoom call, which is why student organizations need to be able to meet one another in person to practice efficiently and hone their skills.

This is why it is crucial  that student organizations will be allowed to return to school in small groups. Doing so, students will be able to yet again experience the immense advantages of in-person practice and interaction. 

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Con: Practicing online is enough

After months of delay, the implementation of rules for in-person learning have finally begun.  Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has approved a staged approach for schools in the area to open their doors for a limited subset of students. This process has already begun for many schools in the county, with Diamond Bar High School  joining them. 

The current plan permits athletes and performing arts students to return to campus for rehearsals and practice. However, the change is hardly necessary, if not useless all around. 

For sports and performing arts, practice now involves individuals gathering in sizable groups of upwards of 12 people, which in itself already presents a high possibility of spreading the virus. Having to wear masks during practice would simply present yet another obstacle for the students. 

Even the sports that one may not expect to have trouble with distance guidelines will face barriers in one way or another. For instance, during cross country practice, runners are close to one another as they pass each other on the track. COVID-19 safety measures recommend every person to stay at least six feet apart from any other individual, making practice near impossible, and this change, useless.

Sports such as football and wrestling involve athletes to make physical contact with one another. And if they were to focus on aspects of training that don’t require contact, then they could have simply trained at home, which is much safer. Seeing as students will not even be allowed to be within an arm’s length of one other, there’s no advantage to having on-campus practice. 

Performing arts ensembles like orchestra and band will require students to wear masks–it’s unclear whether they’d be allowed to take these off while playing–and put preventive material on their instruments. This material goes over the end of an instrument, where air flows out, to keep the player’s breath from spreading significantly. However, at the same time, it also alters the sound of the instrument so that it is comparably poor to the quality in Zoom calls. 

Not to mention that in order to keep socially distanced, the amount of students that can attend on-campus practice at a time will be significantly less than that of virtual rehearsals. Although the sound quality will be marginally better, this method of rehearsing will slow down the learning process quite a bit compared to Zoom meeting practices. With such drawbacks as these, it seems that there’s no significant advantage to practicing on campus compared to online rehearsals.

For some students, the option to return to campus may even mean putting their health at risk for fear of losing out on advantageous opportunities. Student leaders who don’t feel safe returning to campus for practice may be at risk of losing their position to someone who is willing to attend. 

Even with a risk like contracting the deadly virus that has taken over the world in the past year, there is no guarantee that everyone will keep their masks on, stay six feet apart, and follow other safety precautions set in place all the time. This guarantee is even more nonexistent when it comes to high school students, most of which haven’t seen their fellow classmates in person for a better part of the year. 

Thus, this major academic change will only result in more setbacks for both organizations and students alike. Most students have already adjusted themselves to learning at home to some extent. For these groups to return to campus  is not only costly and ineffective, but will also cause more problems for students in the long run.

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