Editorial: Virtual v.s. In-School Learning Policy


To solve issues regarding students who choose to self-quarantine, starting next six weeks the district requires students to decide whether they are virtual or in-person learners, and will not be allowed to switch between the two.

The district and school should adhere to this decision because the new policy eliminates unfair grading practices, students already had the option to choose which method works for them and  the clearly-defined categories help make teachers’ lives a bit easier.

From the time students returned to regular, in-person school, the district said a student could opt to stay home if they wanted to self-quarantine. All they had to do to be counted for attendance was email their teacher or complete an assignment in Canvas by 11:59 p.m. that night. This ultimately led to students taking advantage of the policy. Many students chose to stay home during their first period to sleep or specifically on test days to use their notes during the exam. This elicits unfairness across the student body, as it gives some students a leg up. Whereas others who followed the rules by coming to school and taking the tests from what they have learned or memorized do not get the advantage of using outside resources for tests and assignments. In a school that implements GPA and ranking, this caused a big problem.

While it did make sense to allow students to stay home penalty-free for the safety of the school, there was already an option to attend the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA). Over the summer, the district offered this as an option, as well as at the end of each grading period. This gave students plenty of time and opportunities to make the switch, without causing any unfair advantages or unnecessary stresses. So, requiring students to follow through with their choices now helps prepare them for life and allows the district to staff the VLA and in-person classes best.

Additionally, teachers were responsible for not only logging in-person attendance, but also checking to see if anyone was choosing to remain virtual for the day. As the uncertainties of this year progressed, the teachers became overwhelmed by all of the work expected of them. They should not have had to take time away from teaching to deal with the clerical parts of simply taking attendance and grading extra assignments throughout the day – unless the student was specifically quarantined by the school and had to stay home for 14 days. 

Students should sign up for the VLA if they wish to remain at home and learn virtually to ensure the school’s clear guidelines for virtual or regular learners. That way, there is less stress and confusion for the staff and students.

Students should talk to their parents and school counselors to determine what would be the best option for their learning situation.