Opinion | Thoughts from Black Student Union on school reopening

Black Student Union

The following was submitted by the Black Student Union.

On March 1, ETHS released its re-opening plan to staff, students and their families. This plan expressed a new hybrid model of learning, a result of the current pandemic. While there are many mixed feelings about this new hybrid method of learning, many have found solace in listening to the opinions of others. For some, this new model will be beneficial while for others… it may be a hindrance. Additionally, minorities have been affected at disproportionate rates as a result of the pandemic. Recognizing their point of view in COVID-19 related aspects will help people understand how the pandemic is affecting the most vulnerable. Taking the question “How do you feel about the schools reopening model?” to the ETHS Black Student Union (BSU), here is how they responded

Seems like a feeble attempt for ETHS to appear better

Some students stated how, while they appreciate the thought, with now over 75 percent of the year under wraps, this hybrid model is more of a publicity stunt. Students from the Black Student Union agree that many parents have been pushing for ETHS to open their doors all year long so, in hopes of appeasing them, they have now listened. Many see this as counterproductive, however, as students have now gotten used to the online learning routine. Additionally, it has been revealed that in some classes, students will sit in the classroom on Zoom while teachers teach from their homes. In the eyes of many, this is unnecessary and they are more excited to re-enter school in the fall of 2021 and experience the whole school year live and together.

Better than nothing, as online school comes with a plethora of challenges

Contrarily, many Black Student Union members are ecstatic with this new model. Many stated how their houses are not ideal for the e-learning set-up whether that is an internet connection, an abundance of family members, lack of a delegated workspace, etc. For these students, they feel as if being able to do school in person (even if the teacher is still on Zoom) will be a huge help to their education.

Puts Black people in a weird situation making them choose between education or health

Lastly, the position this plan puts Black students in was a heavy topic of discussion. Historically, Black people have been given horrid health care and that has led to a generational distrust in medical aid. Many BSU members noted the Tuskegee study, where white scientists gave 399 Black men syphilis in order to test the natural effects of untreated syphilis. In the present day, this medical distrust by the Black community has resulted in many being apprehensive about the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, the pandemic has affected Black student educational outcomes in staggering numbers, leaving many with the hopes of being able to re-enter the school. Many BSU students noted, however, that in order for their families to feel safe about them going into the school, they would need to be vaccinated. This puts many Black families in a hard situation as they feel they need to sacrifice their health for their education or vise versa. The opinions on the new hybrid model for ETHS has resulted in the influx of opinions from many, but one thing the Black Student Union did all agree on is the fact that, in order to get through this pandemic in the most successful way possible, everybody needs to listen to those most affected.

This includes all people of color, those from a lower socioeconomic background and those with underlying health conditions. This reopening plan will only be successful if all factors by those with real concerns/struggles are taken into consideration.