There’s no easy answer as to how and when a school resumes having in-person classes. There’s no doubt that school is incredibly important to the social, emotional and even physical health of many students. Some students rely on school for basic needs, like meals and a safe environment. Families rely on school for child care during the day.

Although it plays a crucial role in the community, it’s not worth losing lives to return to school. Students aren’t the only people in danger. From teachers who may be in higher health risk categories to grandparents who take care of kids after school, the hazards of returning are far-reaching.

Some schools, with sufficient space and case numbers, can safely return. But it’s more difficult with large schools, like Davis and Eisenhower, which have greater student density. This pandemic has already dragged on unnecessarily long. Why make it worse?

Until teachers have been vaccinated, it seems unwise that students should return. Both proponents and opponents have valid reasons, but one life lost is one life too many, especially when the year can continue online.

— Maya Crowder, Davis High School, 12th grade

Who’s ready to start superspreading? The answer is that with the plan for all students in the Yakima School District to go back to school, it looks like we will be.

We will have masks on, right? Will the majority of students keep them on? We don’t know what anyone does off-campus, either. This seems like a big risk, made with too many unanswered questions.

We have been out of school for almost an entire year, so what’s the rush to go back now? Our school schedule hasn’t been consistent or normal since virtual learning started. We will now have another variation with hybrid classes. Being at class in person will cause cases to rise and I’m willing to bet we will be shut down and back to virtual learning for the rest of the year.

We need a steadier routine. We are finally getting used to virtual school and this upheaval won’t benefit us as much as the community likes to think.

The majority of our teachers have not been vaccinated. If our staff isn’t protected, why are we going? Some people aren’t comfortable going back in person. Our only other option in my school is to transfer to Yakima Online. We will no longer be enrolled as Eisenhower Cadets and Davis Pirates if we do this. And plans are constantly changing.

It seems like the district is still making decisions and the start date is getting ever closer. I just hope we won’t get the final answer last minute, yet again.

Olivia Rankin, Eisenhower High School, 10th grade

The transition from remote schooling to a hybrid model provides some relief to the isolation that the pandemic has forced upon many students. Much of teenagers’ psychological support lies in schools, and I am thankful that those doors will finally be open again.

I am also worried. I am worried about the anxiety that many students will face when returning home to an immunocompromised family member after breathing in an enclosed room with numerous pupils for hours at school. I am worried about reluctance to protect one’s classmates and teachers by correctly wearing a mask and the dangerous effects this will have on the community. I am worried that this transition is rushed, risking the physical health of students, staff and all those they are in contact with.

When discussing hybrid model schooling, may we bear in mind not only those who are enthusiastic for in-person social interaction but also those who are fearful for the health of their family members when entering an environment in which COVID-19 transmission is probable. The student population is not a monolith.

— Mary-Frances Ballew, Selah High School, 12th grade