Return to E-learning…?

Ella Page

If you are a SPASH student, last week may have been a flashback to the 2020 school year. Students have been scrambling to catch up on assignments this year, leaving many of them especially frustrated with the return of e-learning. In addition to the return of in-person school this year, COVID-19 has taken its toll on SPASH’s students and staff. With record amounts of absences in the first week of January, SPASD decided to return to e-learning for the following week. This decision was not warmly welcomed by many SPASH students, however, when it comes down to the safety of the staff and student body of any Stevens Point school, this was the best possible solution. 

Why the Shutdown? 

It’s no secret that COVID-19 is everywhere, especially in Portage County. As of January 17th, Portage County has roughly 3,000 active cases according to the Wisconsin Health and Human Services. This may not seem like a lot as Portage County has around 70,000 people living there. However…

So, let’s take a look at SPASH’s numbers. SPASH had over 400 student absences on Thursday January 6th, according to communications from Principal Jon Vollendorf. That number excludes any of the staff and/ or bus drivers that may have been out as well. With all of the possible COVID-19 cases and staff shortages, a school shutdown may have been the only viable solution for SPASH.

Back to In-person

This shutdown was proven to be a safe and effective solution to an increase in COVID-19 cases. On january 12th, Craig Gerlach, Stevens Point area school district’s superintendent, sent out an email that said “At this time, we are beginning to see a decrease in both new positive COVID cases as well as staff and students in quarantine. As these numbers drop, we feel confident in returning to in-person learning.”

Impact on Students from Shutdown

This past week of e-learning prevented the spread of COVID-19 within SPASH’s walls and allowed students and faculty to recover, rest and catch up. Although this was the safest option for SPASH, was this e-learning positive for students?  

One senior, Amber Mrozek, agrees “This week of e-learning was necessary for the safety of those at SPASH.” 

However, Amber also said “Yes the shutdown was necessary, but that doesnt mean I liked it… last week was awful, it took more away from my senior year. I had flashbacks from last year and I was scared we wouldn’t come back to school.” 

Aileen Winn, a junior at SPASH also agrees “ I really do think it was the safer option to close the school. It was really bad [e-learning] and I hated having to postpone quizzes and tests. E-learning made things really stressful.” 

When asked about teacher instruction and organization during e-learning, Aileen said “Everything felt really rushed, there were really no clear instructions on assignments. Most of my teachers were unorganized and unprepared for online learning.”

Many students had a negative experience with this past week’s e-learning, but most agreed that it was necessary for the safety of those at SPASH.

Some students, however, saw no benefit from the week-long switch to e-learning. One senior, Alexa Parry said “E-learning didn’t solve anything. The most it did was give those students who already had COVD-19 a chance to recover. It set back students and teachers more than anything.” 

Overall, the students of SPASH mostly agreed with the district that this school shutdown was something that was necessary for safety purposes. Even though this past week did not prove to be a positive thing for students and their school work, it was proven effective based on the return to in-person learning. As schools enter the third year of this pandemic they must continue to utilize effective, safe, at home e-learning.