Recently, Chicago Public Schools released their plans for students to return to learning this September. Let’s just say it’s a little questionable. As stated by NBC Chicago, “Under the framework, both half and full-day pre-K programs will learn at school, while students in kindergarten through 10th grade would operate under a hybrid model.” They also stated, “Most students in 11th and 12th grades–high school juniors and seniors–would learn entirely at home “given the diverse course scheduling requirements” of those students, the district says. You might be able to see my concern with this plan. If not, allow me to explain.
Let’s start with the fact that juniors and seniors have absolutely no in-person learning in this plan. Junior year is non-arguably the single most important year in a student’s life, no matter the post-secondary plans. Whether you’re going to college, getting a full-time job, enlisting in the military, or you have other plans, junior year is the year you figure it all out and put those plans into motion. With no in-person learning or counseling, how can juniors get proper emotional and academic support in order to fuel these plans? Also, seniors need appropriate help finalizing these plans and being coached into adulthood which is usually obtained in classes and seminars in their final year of high school. Although I absolutely understand that juniors and seniors can stay at home by themselves and this plan works for parents and guardians, upperclassmen not having a single day, or even a few hours a week of in-person learning simply does not make sense.
I also want to delve in the fact that the youngest people, who spread germs more than anyone, have full-day learning plans. Once again, I understand that sending the little ones to school works best for parents, but it’s not safe for kids who don’t fully understand the concept of spreading germs and diseases are at school six plus hours a day.
I’ve talked to some of my classmates about this topic. Below are the opinions of a few juniors from Gwendolyn Brooks and how they feel about the new back-to-school plan:
“I really hope they figure out more realistic and fair plans for the upperclassmen.” –Nia Morgan
“Without students, there is no school. So why keep us out of the discussion about a place designed for us?” –Anu Atomori
“With junior year being one of the most demanding academically, it is also 11th graders’ time to have one-on-ones with counselors about future college plans.” –Zuriyah Smith
“Honestly, I feel as though the idea of having upperclassmen doing complete remote learning is ridiculous, selfish if you will. Not only were our thoughts and feelings not considered as high schoolers in general, but I think as upperclassmen, junior and senior year are the most important and all we get is computer screens and then a five-hour minimum. On top of that, I signed myself up for about five college courses, I’m not sure if I’m equipped to take those online. My friends are my muse too. Most of my motivation comes from them. I just wish they would re-evaluate this a little.” –Ariana Hinton
“Underclassmen placed in the school setting during the least demanding high school years is not only upsetting, but disappointing. Juniors and seniors are going through our most crucial years of high school. Having to complete the school year on remote learning will belittle our chances to perform to our fullest.” –Sophia Bustos
Clearly, there is a lot of animosity between these students, myself, and CPS. I think this plan needs serious reconsideration and reconstruction. On the Chicago Public Schools’ Twitter account, @Chipubschools, there is a survey that asks CPS affiliates about the plan and how they can improve on it. I recommend and ask anyone who has an issue to fill out that survey. I hope that CPS will truly take these opinions into consideration and make a better school plan for everyone.
By Joi Belcher, Junior, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep