Level 3 Learning: Is It Really Better For Our Students?

Virtual learning might not do more harm than good

Kylie Dawn Beard, Reporter

Since the announcement that Liberty High School and Frontier Middle School (along with the rest of the Wentzville high schools and middle schools) will be moving into Level 3: Virtual Learning, there have been many concerns expressed by students, teachers and parents. 

The switch to Level 3 for the rest of the semester was decided to help try and lower the COVID cases. According to the WSD COVID dashboard, there were 17 positive cases reported at LHS from Nov. 9-15. There were six positive cases from Nov. 16-22.

“The only time students are really exposed, when nobody has a mask on, is at lunch,” says Mr. Range, a PNPS and biology teacher at LHS. “There might be a lot of students out, but that’s because we’re sending all these students around them home, even if they’re all wearing a mask.” 

Recently, the Missouri governor, Mike Parson, has loosened school quarantining restrictions. An exposed person only has to quarantine, if someone wasn’t wearing their mask. If both parties (the student who has tested positive, and the student(s) who have only been exposed) are wearing their masks, then only that student who has tested positive will have to quarantine. As of now, the Wentzville School District has yet to adopt these guidelines, but many parents, students, and teachers are only hoping they will. But, for now, there is no definite consensus on whether or not moving to Level 3 was the best decision. 

Especially around parents, it seems that the biggest concern is the mental health of the students. Another thing that is discussed is at what point is Wentzville being too protective? Students who were not comfortable with going to school this year had the option to be completely virtual. We can only assume that the ones deciding to go are completely healthy, and have no one at home who could be in danger.

So why are we seeing an issue where students protest school is unsafe, although they were fine with Level 2?

“All of the students were always exposed to the same teachers,” says Erin Vosbrink, a parent of a student at Liberty. “If it’s unsafe now, then it was never safe. Everybody knew the risks of going back to school at the beginning of the school year. The original plan was Level 1. Only a week before school started, they switched it to hybrid, by then, everyone had already picked if they wanted to be fully virtual or if they wanted to go back as an individual. So, there’s no reason why parents should be complaining now that we’re back to Level 3. It was the original plan.

Erica Bax, a parent of three, has two children who continue to go to elementary school in the district, but still has concerns about the precautions in the district.

“One of my biggest concerns is, at what point can they be too careful,” Bax said. “I don’t like how our district does one thing, and then like Howell does another… I understand we’re a different district, but shouldn’t we all be trying to do the same or something similar? At some point, we have to get back to school, and we can’t keep coddling immune systems. Those who are at high risk, yes I agree, don’t be going out, but those who aren’t are going to become higher risk because they’ve started sheltering their immune systems. At a certain age, we’re told to let babies play on the floor, give them tummy time to build up their immune systems, this really isn’t much different. It’s really like the flu, this will probably never go away, but we have to go back to doing things at some point. Kids have to go back to school at some point. And I think it’s fine to keep guidelines while numbers are high, but eventually, we have to have our lives again and I think to start, stop closing down schools. Houses are not learning environments.”

As we get closer and closer to our return date in January, more concerns are being raised. Students have been given the opportunity to switch from virtual classrooms to in-person learning, or vise-versa. The return date for high school in-person learning is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2021.