MHS Needs a Plan for Self-Isolating Students

When students are exposed to, or unfortunately infected with COVID, they must enter self isolation. Of course, absences must be excused, and new plans must be made if a student cannot attend school. One would expect that a standardized plan would be in place for teaching students from home. What should their workload be? How should in-person tests be conducted? How should teachers be notified of their students’ condition? 

After noticing a concerning pattern in conversation with friends, I reached out to various students about their communication with MHS during self-isolation. How had staying home impacted their workload, learning, and relationships with teachers? While satisfaction varied, my peers consistently mentioned a lack of consistency in communication and between the plans of individual classes. According to student testimony, MHS does not have a standardized education plan for students under quarantine. 

Students report significant inconsistency in interactions with teachers. Despite contacting his teachers individually, a quarantined freshman was repeatedly marked absent for classes he couldn’t attend. While this student was told that his teachers had been alerted of his situation, when emailed individually, “they all reacted in the sense of it’s the first they heard of it.” Of course, high school students are capable of emailing teachers individually. However, multiple students I spoke to said they did not hear back from teachers about quarantine expectations. 

Another challenge facing students in quarantine is the expectation that they may keep up with in-person workloads. Of course, if one is at home, one may have more free time during which to work. However, it presents a challenge for students who miss class time to keep up to date in their understanding of class material. One senior felt held back by the lack of academic accommodation offered in class. “This lack of consistency with the way teachers handled my situation was just really frustrating and showed me that the school really didn’t take the time to train the teachers how to handle it when someone actually gets sick.”

Once we return to full weeks of instruction, isolating students will lose many more hours of class time. As of now, kids in quarantine are already at a disadvantage. MHS needs a standardized approach towards self-isolation, to reduce the academic impact of COVID exposure. Teachers and students both deserve clear guidelines.  One junior wishes “there was a student plan that got emailed to anyone who had to quarantine.” 

While some teachers accommodate self-isolating students by conducting a simultaneous Zoom during in-person classes, this is not feasible for all teachers. Furthermore, as we know well, school wifi is not reliable. Teachers are already faced with the challenge of keeping students engaged, and of condensing necessary information into reduced class time. In this case, wouldn’t it be useful for teachers to have guidelines on accommodating quarantining students? 

I believe both students and teachers will benefit from standardized communication and guidelines. With new variants of COVID spreading, and with the promise of increased time in-person, it’s possible that COVID exposures will increase. We the student body deserve clear statements from administrators on school expectations during self isolation.

Kate Gardner

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