Shorting the Seniors

Shorting+the+Seniors

Natalie Sinha, Editor

     The Leander ISD board of trustees will vote Thursday on extending virtual learning through phased opening. If approved, freshmen would return to school on Sept. 8 as originally intended, whereas sophomores would return Sept. 21, juniors would return Sept. 28 and seniors would return Oct. 5.

     The board should vote in favor of phased learning, but switch the sophomores with the seniors because returning high schoolers do not need an adjustment period and the class of 2021 deserves as much of a “normal” high school experience as they can get.

     The job of any school board is to give its students the best education it can, and during these uncertain, COVID-induced times it can be difficult to know exactly what that means. However, taking an additional month of in-person school away from the grade who only has one year left would have the exact opposite effect. Due to circumstances outside of the seniors’ control, typical activities that were supposed to mark their monumental year such as homecoming, senior football season, band competition, volleyball and other fall sports – maybe even events as far out as prom, the senior six flags trip, and graduation, just to name a few – have been thrown into jeopardy. Not to mention, the simple act of going to school on a daily basis and seeing the friends that they have less than a year left with is yet another privilege that has been revoked for the Class of 2021. Sophomores, by comparison, still have three entire years left of high school and won’t be leaving it behind for college or a job or anything else any time soon. Though every student’s high school experience is equally important, it is imperative that the LISD board consider how little time the seniors have left in this chapter of their life, and switching them with the sophomores would be at least a small way to make up for all the normalcy they are having to miss out on this year.

     Though it may be disappointing for some students to have virtual learning extended and return to school in phases, the phase plan is a more logical approach to slowly opening schools back up instead of sending everyone at once and potentially having to shut completely back down. Sending the freshman back to school first, albeit a move that goes against the laws of seniority, makes sense as the class of 2024 just left middle school and needs time to transition into high school. LISD is responsible for making sure all of its students have equal and safe access to normal school and extracurriculars, though, not just freshmen. Being located in both Williamson and Travis county means there are already more hoops to jump through for the administrators than in other districts. Additionally, according to the CDC COVID Tracker, Texas continues to rank third out of the 50 states for being the worst coronavirus hotspot in the nation. These factors combined mean that “normal” school will still be anything but – including but certainly not limited to mandatory masks, absurd amounts of hand sanitizer, social distancing with classroom desks and in the cafeteria, and livestreaming class via zoom. These are all necessary and safe precautions, but it doesn’t change the fact that due to circumstances that are no one’s fault (except maybe the national government), everyone will be in for an extremely irregular year. If the school board truly has its students’ best interests at heart, it would prioritize phasing in the seniors over the sophomores especially since no one can be certain about how much and to what extent they will get to experience this school year.

     The school board should vote in favor of the phase-in plan, but switch the seniors and the sophomores so that the seniors would get to return to school on Sept. 21. By implementing this switch, the board will be doing its part to help seniors have the important and exciting year that their lives have all been leading up to.