‘We can get back our education, but not our lives,’ students push back on in-person learning

PARKER, Colo. (KDVR) — As more school districts begin to transition into hybrid forms of learning in 2021, Colorado students begin to feel tossed around.

Douglas County high schools have begun discussing plans of transitioning students to and from in-person and remote learning. Students like Ethan Reed, a senior at Legend High School, are gathering support from fellow students to push for full remote learning until more teachers and students can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s just something that we don’t think is possible right now,” said Reed. “Teachers aren’t capable of teaching both the quarantined students and in-person students at the same time.”

In early December, Douglas County Schools (DCSD) announced its plan to slowly start a hybrid school schedule. The district will soon enter Phase 2 which focuses on middle school students. A timeline for Phase 3, which focused on high schoolers is still undetermined.

“At any time, if too many staff members are infected and/or quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure and are therefore not available to come to work in schools every day, we may need to shift individual schools or entire groups of schools back to remote learning,” said Corey Wise, DCSD interim superintendent.

Douglas County students are not as convinced the hybrid model is best for them or their teachers.

“I can’t get through a day of classes without hearing the stress in the teacher’s voice when they are talking about the future, because they have no idea what to plan for,” said Alexander Lees, a junior at ThunderRidge High School.

“I would love to go back to school full time and be with my friends again, but that’s just not possible until we know for sure that it is safe.”

Lees and Reed said Sunday the inconsistencies between in-person and remote learning make it difficult to know what their school day will entail, whether they need to study, or if a test is still happening. With the new COVID-19 variant so close to home, fear of catching the virus at school has never been greater for them. 

“I really can’t even put that worry and hear into words,” said Reed. “Our safety needs to be prioritized more than anything. Even more than our education right now. Our education we are able to get back but not our lives.”

Lees and Reed plan to attend the next virtual DCSD meeting with several other high school students to voice their concerns. “They need to listen to the teachers and listen to the students,” said Lees.

Other Douglas County students against in-person learning have joined together to write a letter to the district. Over a dozen high schoolers have started a petition and even shot a video to get as many voices together as possible.

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