Pro: the hybrid models offers a safer option for in class instruction
In an effort to maintain safety precautions and social distancing rules during COVID-19 while offering in person instruction, Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) offered a hybrid model of instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. While cases of COVID-19 are currently on the rise, IUSD is expected to proceed with this model for the time being.
To ensure safety under the hybrid model, students are divided into two cohorts based on last name and attend odd period classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and even period classes on Thursdays and Fridays. Because benefits such as a decrease in screen time and a chance to experience traditional learning, the hybrid model is effective for students during the pandemic.
The structure of the model helps to decrease the amount of screen time students face in light of school adding large amounts of virtual work. According to a survey conducted by ParentsTogether, a national parent-led organization on April 23, 2020, only 8.3% of kids spent at least six hours or more in front of a screen before the COVID-19 outbreak. However, that number has drastically increased to 49% of kids spending six or more hours in front of a screen and 26% spending eight or more hours. This increase in screen time can lead to harmful effects like dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision and a rise in sleeping issues. The hybrid model gives students the opportunity for a break away from screens and allows more time for face to face interaction.
With the hybrid model, students are provided with a chance to experience the traditional way of learning. With 16,423 results from an Irvine District’s 2020-21 Family Survey conducted between June 15 to June 17, 2020, 79% of families responded in preference towards some sort of in person learning whether that be hybrid or traditional. Satisfying the preferences of both students and parents, the hybrid model allows for students to resume in person classes. This allows for students to regain the benefits of original learning circumstances before the pandemic while considering safety precautions as classes are reduced to half the size of its original. As a hybrid student, one is able to interact with others from a safe distance which leads to the question: during these tough times, isn’t a small sense of normalcy needed?
Although California continues to rise in the number of COVID-19 cases each day, and with Orange County recently surfacing the purple tier, IUSD continues to make schools a safer place for all families, staff and students keeping the number of cases low. Extra protocols have been taken at Irvine High in order to ensure extra safety according to a community message sent out by Principal Monica Colunga on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. These measures include purchased and stocked enhanced cleaning tools and disinfectants, mask requirements, campus modifications where students follow designated directional paths, non shareable equipment and a divided break.
The hybrid model schedule is effective and beneficial to students by maintaining the traditional way of learning prior to the outbreak. Students are provided the opportunity to connect and socialize with others within the classroom. These safety precautions put in place although are made effective for the benefit of the IHS community, it is important to remember to continue to take precautions everywhere, in order to be able to continue with the hybrid model.
Hafsa is a senior and business manager as well as staff writer on El Vaquero and this is her third year on staff.
Con: the hybrid model creates many challenges
Orange County remains in the purple tier as of Monday, Nov. 30. In response, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued new COVID-19 guidelines: prohibiting indoor dining in restaurants, a curfew, and an overnight stay at home order.
Students chose one of three models, hybrid, blended or Irvine Virtual Academy, before the start of the school year and will be given the opportunity to choose again at the end of the semester. The hybrid model consists of students attending school twice a week in either the blue or green cohort, minimizing the number of people on campus and offering the safest instruction possible. However, because of the challenges for students and teachers alike, the hybrid model has proven inefficient in maximizing learning.
The lack of student connection in the classroom, which is essential to a student’s growth, is evident in the hybrid model. According to a Washington Post article, education writer Valerie Strauss argues socio-emotional learning needs are crucial skills developed through collaboration. However, because the hybrid model groups students into two cohorts, with less students in a class and social distancing, students are unable to collaborate properly and their socio-emotional learning needs are not met. With this disconnect, what are the academic advantages of this model?
Logistical flaws in the hybrid model obstruct learning; not only are students losing in-person instruction time, but lack of Internet accessibility continues to hinder learning. According to the Atlantic, in the COVID-19 era, many teachers are fighting to ensure all their students can log into class each day. Their struggles are just one example of the consequences of America’s failure to get all its citizens online before this uniquely internet-dependent time. This lack of adequate access is reflected in Irvine High School, as many students struggle with unstable internet connection and numerous school-wide technical issues. The model does not take into consideration this common issue within our district, thus, proving inefficient.
The hybrid schedule was created in order for students to have a sense of normalcy. However, there are limited opportunities for students to receive face-to-face time with their teachers. This deteriorates the sense of routine and stability that many students want, and ultimately, anticipated normalcy is not being achieved. Therefore, is the hybrid schedule really worth all of the difficulty that students and teachers go through?
Given the current situation of increasing COVID-19 cases, it is fair to assume that this model will stay for a prolonged period of time. However, because this model is creating added barriers for students and teachers, it should be revised.
Aanya Sharma is a senior and the business manager of El Vaquero. Sharma is also the co-photo editor and the co-sports editor. This is her third year on staff.