A social media petition generated by “Concerned Students” at Evanston Township High School is asking that the school go on remote learning due to the threat of COVID-19.
ETHS began the second semester on Monday with in-person classes.
But the petition, with the headline “ETHS must go online,” says District 202 should extend the “adaptive pause” (remote learning) for “two more weeks, or until it’s safe to go back” to school in the building.
The petition claims that the highly contagious omicron variant is “likely to spread exponentially throughout the school,” endangering students and staff.
As of mid-day Monday, 431 people had signed.
The petition raises the question that played out through much of 2020 and early 2021 — whether it is significantly safer for children to learn at home during a pandemic, or if school is actually better, medically, academically and socially, despite the existence of COVID.
Parents who see the petition can also sign if they wish.
Christina Peters, the mother of an ETHS junior, did just that.
Peters tells Evanston Now that what to do is a tough call, with good arguments on both sides.
“It’s completely understandable, because this is an emotional topic. There’s no good answer,” she says.
Peters’ vaccinated son did go back to in-person school, but she adds, “There’s nobody I know that’s not concerned” about both COVID and last month’s gun incident.
Peters says remote learning “should be an option” for those who want it, particularly for children who are immuno-compromised or have family members with underlying conditions.
However, other parents do not seem concerned. Cate O’Brien says, “I’m really grateful my daughter was able to go to school today,” and says that the ETHS junior, who is vaccinated, “was excited to go back and was not nervous.”
O’Brien says the scientific evidence is “overwhelming” that students who are vaccinated (including the booster) have a very mimimal chance of being hospitalized or dying from COVID.
Amy Bird has a ninth grade son at ETHS, who is also fully vaccinated.
Bird says, “I definitely feel very strongly about keeping our school open.”
Her son, who is an athlete, “was excited to go back. He wants to be in school.”
A school district can only impliment an “adaptive pause” in coordination with the local health department and that agency’s guidelines and regulations.
That’s what ETHS did for its “adaptive pause” in the five days leading up to winter break.
While the in-person vs. remote learning debate stirred a lot of emotions while ETHS was online for more than a year, maybe the discussion this time will be a bit more friendly.
“A lot of parents are being constructive,” says O’Brien.