Graphic Courtesy of CUSD

A slide featured on the district’s board meeting aimed at encapsulating the community’s sentiments to the new normal.

Editorial: On the approval of distance learning 2.0+

On Wednesday, Sept. 23 the Carlsbad Unified School District Board of Trustees voted in favor of implementing Distance Learning 2.0 “Plus.” The decision was prefaced by protesters outside of the district office, angry Facebook groups and dozens of dissenting comments that were read during the meeting urging for school to go back five days a week. All so that students could work like normal, teachers could plan like normal and life can breathe, like normal. The word normal, has never held such an appeal and certainly has never been at the forefront of so many wishlists.

Normal is not an option. But neither is division.

“We all want things to go back to normal. We all want things to go back to February – pre-COVID – and it’s fair to acknowledge that and it’s fair to honor that. The reality however is that we haven’t gone back to normal and the decisions that we make certainly are not possible to make everyone happy,” is how Superintendent Ben Churchill started the discussion on the proposed high school reopening plans.

To be more succinct: policies can’t be normal when the circumstances aren’t normal.

To those advocating for a full reopening – it’s simple. As the board stated, we would need twice the amount of teachers, $900,000 per student in order to make class sizes acceptably smaller, and even then, going back to school on campus would not look like March 12.

Students and staff would not be freely interacting with one another in large group settings oblivious to the new realities we face. These new realities are not pretty, but they do exist and facing them is necessary. Students would be six feet apart from each other and from teachers who would be unable to see their work and provide help. Students and staff would be wearing masks for the entirety of their time on campus. They would not be able to attend football games, school dances or even the crowded stairs and corridors of the 3000’s building during brunch: a staple of life in a school of 2,358 teens.

These new realities are not pretty, but they do exist and we can’t ignore them. Going backwards to March 12 is not an option — we can only move forward from here into a new model, and Distance Learning 2.0+ is a model built for the new realities of Covid-19.

Echoing Dr.Churchill, it’s fair to acknowledge and honor the desire to return to school. We all unequivocally share that desire. However, on top of being logistically and financially impossible, it is an astonishing example of moral irresponsibility and demonstrates a complete failure of empathy to choose to let our neighbors die for a bite of the high school experience.

We need to protect all members of our Carlsbad community, and that includes the people working in our schools to support students. It should not be ignored that the Distance Learning 2.0+ plan was the only plan supported and recommended by teachers, who all too commonly are left out of our highest considerations and taken for granted. Our teachers are not robots — they are human beings with their own children, navigating education during a pandemic, with their own health concerns to worry about and their own personal challenges.

We are all in the same boat within the same community “by the sea,” and we need to remember the challenges that we’re all going through in order to come out through this with dignity and pride in our community. The support of the teachers is enough reason alone to support this plan.

With students trickling onto campus for clubs and athletics under Distance Learning 2.0+ we can expect to see improved emotional health and increased productivity. That is a big win for freshmen who haven’t stepped foot on campus and seniors who yearn to go back.

Indeed the pandemic has caused a rise in anxiety, depression, and suicide, and perhaps this 2.0+ plan will not bring those numbers back down to normal, but it is the biggest step in the right direction – normalcy – that we can make.

Any way that it can be looked at, this plan does move toward a sense of normalcy and we have to look to that like our North Star.

As the editorial board of the Lancer Link, we fully support the approval of Distance Learning 2.0+ by the board: a plan which recognizes the circumstances the virus has put us in and addresses the torrent of emotional issues staff and students are going through as fully as circumstances allow. As a community, we have to be able to hear each other and build on each other’s concerns in a way that moves us forward, not backward or apart. Civil discourse (which includes protests) is always a must in local politics but at the end of the day, we are just one community that has to value its unity more than its policy.

We know that this virus moves among crowds. We know that districts near us have moved fast to reopen only to fail in staying safe even faster. If we reopen schools now, we will spark an outbreak that will shut our campuses down in their entireties, allowing for zero sports, clubs, teams and activity meetings altogether.

By moving to reopen slowly, we leave the window open for these sports and clubs to steadily increase their presence on campus and for classes and end of the year activities that really matter, events like prom and graduation that mean the world to the class of 2021, to happen. Rushing through reopening and risking making things worse than they currently are will hurt students’ time on campus exponentially. However, we can move both slowly and together, through Distance Learning 2.0+ and beyond so that cases do not rise and life can begin to look more like “normal.”

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Comments (8)

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  • J

    Jacqueline S RobertsSep 28, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    So proud of The Lancer Link journalism students for their mature thinking and writing excellency. They also should be commended for their knowledge of and respect for science. As a grandmother, it gives me hope that this new generation will make a positive impact upon our country and world!

  • J

    JoanneHaeussingerSep 26, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Bravo! A great example of journalistic excellence, thoughtfully and brilliantly written. The macro lens perspective with which you examine this topic, the selflessness you so clearly demonstrate, and the compassion you have for your community and teachers brought tears to my eyes as I was reading. You are the future of our great nation, and after reading this, I am reassured that we are headed along a good path. Thank you.

  • A

    Alycia SuttonSep 25, 2020 at 5:55 pm

    Very well-thought-out and we’ll-written article by the most mature students in the age group we parents are trying to advocate for. The kids will be ok if their parents show support for DL 2.0 plus.. Instead of be divisive, we need to work together to ensure that all middle school and high school students join a school club, any club, even if it’s just a study group with students in the same grade level. I support the school board’s decision to methodically transition back into full-time, 5-days a week with this age group. Let’s get these clubs going so our kids can get back to some “normalcy”! Let’s get them back on campus, in-person, with their friends and classmates, in a small group and safe environment.

  • J

    John MarshallSep 25, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you for this well written editorial. We all desire the same outcome, a return to normalcy, but may disagree on the path there. This was a great reminder that no matter your beliefs today, we will be one community again, hopefully soon.

  • B

    Becky WentlandSep 25, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    Kudos, editorial board. What a reasoned, well-balanced take on a topic that people feel passionately about right now! Whenever I read the writing of our talented students, I feel hopeful about the future. Nice job.

  • J

    Jorge EspinozaSep 25, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    This is a great piece and it echos my feelings as well. This is a step in the right direction. Small groups following simple guidelines will show that we can live through this pandemic. Things are going to get better, but it requires all of us to work together. I am so happy to read that the editorial board is thinking critically and seeing how we can make progress towards moving to a new normal.

  • H

    Heather GearingSep 25, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    Very well written piece!! Great job Editorial Board!

  • S

    Sokratis KanetakisSep 25, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    Very well said, congrats Editorial crew!