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Paige Anderson, Editor-in-Chief Originally published April 9, 2021

Cartoon by Sam Rainville

Cartoon by Sam Rainville

From one cancellation to the next due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us believed that attending in-person school during these times would be improbable. We came to terms with our 2020-2021 school year being strictly confined to Microsoft Teams.

But when Governor Jay Inslee announced on March 12 that all Wash. K-12 schools must require some sort of in-person learning, there was a range of emotions felt by Seattle Public Schools students and staff along with a plethora of questions.

Concerns about the schedule, social distancing, vaccinations and even air circulation in the classrooms went under consideration by SPS to answer the question: How do we protect the staff and students’ physical health?

Principal Keven Wynkoop released the new and apparently improved “hybrid learning” schedule, causing much confusion—which is really no surprise, considering SPS is notorious for disorder and chaos.

It appears as though the district didn’t even collaborate with students to create a structure that is efficient and logical. We’ve had an abundance of things taken away from us this year, and now our school year is being altered into a depressing revamp of a “normal year.”

Both the mental health of students and their grades are continuing to decline, which raises the question: Why is tacking on an extra four hours and ten minutes of school the solution? It’s about time the district realizes that the reason more students are failing this year than most isn’t because we don’t have enough school, it’s because we have no motivation to navigate school as we currently know it. Further changing our structure and routine that we’ve finally gotten a grasp on is not the answer to helping us boost our GPA’s.

Our attention spans are shot, the muscle called our brain hasn’t been exercised for a solid year; we simply can’t go back to sitting in desks for four hours (especially after sitting in front of a screen for three.) Why are we now expected to dedicate six hours and 50 minutes of our day to school when we are already struggling to dedicate two hours and 50 minutes?

Students have found themselves in a “lose-lose” situation; If you choose to stay remote, you’re glued to a computer screen for almost seven hours and are never given the opportunity again to go in-person. But if you chose to go in-person, who knows what those hours will be filled with?

Currently, what we know about in-person school is that it will not be dedicated to learning new things (like what you’d expect)—instead, it will mimic a study hall structure. Looks like we have even more busy work coming our way! With just a few weeks of school left and summer being the only thing fueling whatever motivation students have left, it’s hard to imagine this new schedule actually benefiting students in any shape or form.

It’s more than just, “Oh I don’t like school so I’m going to complain about not wanting to go back.” It’s about our lives being completely rearranged and futures made uncertain again and again, in just a single year. It’s about our voices being ignored despite suggesting solutions to problems directly affecting us, or being told “we care about your mental health and well being” while the district’s actions tell a different narrative.

Ever since that fateful day school was canceled and we thought we’d just get two extra weeks of spring break, we have all changed. How could we not? And even if you think you haven’t, the complications and monumental events we’ve experienced have made a mark on all of us. We can not be held to the same standards we were held to before without the proper recognition and support that SPS isn’t offering.

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