Latest School Board Decision Sparks Dissonance Amongst Students

Marian Steinmann, Staff Writer

Students across District 7 waited anxiously Monday, Aug. 24, while the Board of Education discussed whether schools would continue in-person learning.

Following guidance from the health department, concerns voiced by parents and advice from local pediatricians, Superintendent Dr. Jason Henderson said that middle and high school students will continue to learn in a hybrid schedule while elementary students will return to learning in person full time. This decision was made despite the fact that Madison County remains in the orange warning phase.

“If your county is colored orange, that’s a caution or a warning that something is going on,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. She explained that each county should aim to be in the blue zone, but being classified as orange doesn’t necessarily mean that the county should move back a phase.

The decision to remain in a hybrid schedule despite high positivity rates garnered an array of reactions from EHS students. Some, including senior Amal Rizvi, feel that staying in the building is a mistake.

“Students in schools do not just go to school the entire week,” Rizvi said. “They go different places that could have been exposed to COVID-19.”

Rizvi feels that even with special precautions in place, like enforcing masks and social distancing, the board should’ve moved forward with an all-virtual plan for a few weeks.

Junior Carter Schwalb believes that not only does this decision endanger Edwardsville’s youth, but “keeping school open despite the orange COVID-19 warning in Madison County was a decision that is putting the community at risk.”

Schwalb suggests that District 7 follow the example of surrounding districts, most of which have switched to remote learning.

On the other hand, some students agree that continuing with the hybrid model was the right call. It’s all about how the situation is handled within the building, according to senior Clayton Snyders.

“As long as we are taking the proper precautions, I believe we are fine,” Snyders said. “I feel safe.”

Spending some time at school gives Snyders motivation to get his day started, but going full virtual could hinder his productivity.

Although District 7 has chosen to remain hybrid, administration made it clear on the District website that there is one stipulation: if the number of quarantined staff and students increases, “the District would be forced to suspend in-person learning and shift to a remote setting for a period of time.”