In the Souhegan community we have been online learning since late December in order to stay safe with the surge in COVID-19 cases. Many students have struggled with online learning this year with the changing mental and social aspects of remote learning. With all of these struggles, families and faculty have had to make the difficult decision of whether to remain online fully or offer in-person and online classes. Ultimately, Superintendent Steel decided on the option of offering in person and online classes.
As a sophomore at Souhegan High School I think we should remain in an online learning environment until February. I enjoy and prefer learning in person, but I cannot in good conscience return to school with the case numbers rising in Amherst and Hillsborough county. As a community member, I am willing to sacrifice my preference to keep my community safe from this virus. We are in this together, and the surge of Covid-19 cases in the United States has prompted my decision
As of January 13th, there are 21,091 cases and approximately 481 deaths from Covid-19 in Hillsborough County alone. Not to mention, there is a new strain of Covid 19 that’s more infectious than the older strain. In New Hampshire, testing is at capacity, and a lack of tests could result in more unknown Covid-19 cases in the area.. In Amherst and Mont Vernon, there are 89 active cases and with these statistics in mind, our SAU39 Superintendent Adam Steel had to make a decision.
Superintendent Adam Steel stated in his Nixle message to the community; “As we welcome our staff and students back to school for a new year, we are returning to our in-person/remote model on January 19, 2021, as planned.” When I reached out to Mr. Steel, he also stated, “… I want all Souhegan students to know I understand how hard it is to be home and the value of our school.” in the letter to the community he wrote about his new protocols. One of his protocols was that “Parents/Guardians must complete a daily COVID screening before sending students to school each day.”
He reasons that if the students complete and pass a daily COVID screening before school each day, students and faculty will stay safe. This is a valid line of reasoning, but I don’t think everyone will be honest during the daily Covid screening questions. The questionnaire allows an asymptomatic carrier to enter the school, and spread the virus to others.. Additionally, children typically are less likely to show symptoms based on a CDC report.
Given these statistics, it would be important to also look at a student’s activities and their rate of interaction with others. As a student athlete, I personally do not want to put my classmates at risk from other town’s cases in NH. There are multiple stories, some making national news, such as Merrimack football’s Covid outbreak earlier this year, along with the New Hampshire Hockey Closure. Many students rely on school as a social outlet, just like athletes use sports as a social outlet,but can you do both and still have a safe environment? Probably not… that’s why I am sticking with online learning to protect myself and my community.