Make Poudre School District abandon their plan to return to phase 3 and 4 learning

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This week Poudre School District announced their new Covid Response plan to move into in person learning. On January 25th the district will have all schools in phase 3 or above, which consists of dividing schools into A group and B group, with A group attending school on Monday and Wednesday and B group attending school on Tuesday or Thursday. Then, starting on February 8th, all schools will move into Phase 4, which constitutes a return of all students for 5 days a week in a structure relatively comparable to that of normal school.

There are many issues associated with a return to in person school. The district has claimed that transmission of the virus does not occur in schools, but there simply is not comprehensive research to demonstrate this. In addition, while transmission of the virus may not occur in school, there is still transmission that occurs with getting to school. For many students, they have no way to get to school other than to carpool with other students. While students are in the school building, teachers and other faculty can enforce social distancing protocols and mask wearing, but outside of schools they can't. Most if not all students wear their masks during school, but then many of them shed them and hop into a car with several peers from separate households. The district has failed to fully consider this fact.

Furthermore, the timeline of the districts reopening schedule is extremely faulty. In between the shift from phase 3 to phase 4 is a mere span of 14 days. 14 days is roughly the incubation period of the virus, meaning that we will not understand the repercussions of going into phase 3 until we have already moved on to phase 4. The district claims to be supporting a research driven Covid policy, yet they have neglected to allow substantial time in their reopening plan to understand the repercussions of reopening. In November when PSD High Schools reopened in phase 3, it took a span of 4 weeks for us to properly understand the repercussions of reopening to a large enough degree to constitute another shut down. When schools open in phase 3 on January 25th, this will undoubtedly increase transmission and the total number of community cases, and then on February 8th we will be sending these infected but perhaps not yet symptomatic individuals into schools with even fewer social distancing protocols than before.

The districts new Covid policy is outright absurd and careless. The risks associated with in person learning are simply not worth the rewards when the viable alternative of remote learning exists and will suffice for the time being. Online learning certainly has its fair share of challenges, as all students have experienced, and it comes with its own risks. These concerns should not be diminished or ignored. However, we are no closer to being free of the pandemic now than we were in November when the district made the decision to return to Phase 1. The vaccine on the horizon offers a great deal of promise for the future, but it is not here yet. Meanwhile, the district seems to be making decisions as if the entire student body has already received their vaccinations.

The decision to return is premature and irresponsible. As students, we are subject to the decisions of those in power. Our lives are in their hands. We ask that they hold our lives in proper value and delay the return to in person learning until the promise of the vaccine has arrived in a meaningful way. For a full return to in person learning, it is absolutely necessary for a large enough portion of the student body to be vaccinated for the body to have reached herd immunity. 

PSD, please cancel the plan to move into Phases 3 and 4. Make what you know is the moral and responsible decision.