Public School Pandemic Obstacles

GaeaKaan

The recent events regarding COVID-19 have caused mass confusion in regards to many daily activities such as jobs, trips to the grocery store, and school. Due to the privileges that are present within a private school setting, such as the use of technology, online school has become an efficient and safe way to maintain a learning environment. However, this is not the case for all school systems in the area, specifically Omaha Public Schools (OPS). Due to the difference in resources, it raises the question: how are precautions being taken within the public school system?

In the beginning of the pandemic, March 2020, all school systems were desperate to make a switch to a safe distance learning style. The lack of resources and availability of technology made it difficult for the public school system to issue a set schedule where classes could be held and be mandatory for all students. OPS prides itself on creating an equal environment for all students to exceed, regardless of their home life. Many individuals simply don’t have the money to afford luxuries such as iPads or computers or even a stable WiFi connection. The disadvantages some students are met with made it increasingly difficult for the schools to enforce any requirements from their students. 

Although some students were not able to participate in online Zoom calls, others had the technology and availability to participate. There were a higher number of students that did not see the need to participate in class, seeing as it was not graded, it didn’t count towards the GPA. Gracelyn Collins, a senior at Omaha Central High School, saw no point in working on the assignments given. “Nothing was graded, it didn’t contribute to our GPA or transcript at all. It was simply busy work they gave us to respond with information about how we were doing. So why would I do it? It wasn’t beneficial in any way to my future, so why would it be beneficial to do the work?” 

However, there were some students who did all the work assigned, citing multiple reasons for continuing their learning. Jackson Farroh, a AP and Honors student at Omaha Central did most of the work for his classes. “I was taking AP classes and getting college credit. I had to take the college exams so I felt like I should prepare for the AP tests and next year courses.” Another reason for participating in class was to keep himself preoccupied in the early days of quarantine. “I would do it as busy work, to keep me preoccupied because at the beginning(of the pandemic) there was nothing to do.”

Without much concrete information to go on seeing as knowledge of the virus is rapidly changing, the volume of speculations and differing opinions has made the decision to reopen or not a difficult issue for the public schools. On Aug. 7, OPS  announced a full switch to online learning. The school board spent approximately $27.6 million on 54,400 iPads for all OPS students. This will give each child an equal opportunity to learn and continue their education from the safety of their own home. 

The issues surrounding the virus have caused many everyday situations to change drastically. However, the world is keeping up with these changes and attempting to make life similar to the past. Omaha Public Schools added to this change by creating an equal and fair learning experience for all students.

Preparing for a Responsible Return to School

Image source: district.ops.org

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