A letter in your paper about COVID in the schools, written by Gabrielle Johnson, has been making the rounds (“Waterville student’s letter prompts COVID-19 safety talks,” Jan. 25). I admire her for expressing her opinion. She mentions failures by teachers to enforce mask-wearing, which is a real problem. But she comes to the conclusion that our school needs to go into remote learning. I completely disagree.

In education, COVID is only one thing to consider, as the worst outcomes are extremely rare among the vaccinated, especially kids. However, remote learning’s worst outcomes aren’t rare: learning loss, a lack of social interaction, depression. None of us can handle not being able to see our friends, not again.

Remote learning can also exacerbate class divides, a problem as Waterville has high rates of income inequality. If a parent works long hours, and can’t afford a babysitter, what are they to do? Quit their job, and struggle to put food on the table? That’s not even mentioning families who have no internet access at all.

As a generation, we are broken, not just from COVID but the response to it. It feels like public officials haven’t given kids any thought. Of course I support masks, and vaccines, but these are like tools a carpenter uses to fix a house, while remote learning is like demolishing the house. The author of the letter talks about kids screaming in the halls; that’s because they endured remote learning! It’s been so long since we’ve had a regular year that we’re not operating at the appropriate maturity level; nobody knows what harm this could cause later in life.

Very few of us want to go remote. Not students. Not parents. So hear my plea: take remote learning off the table, and refocus the conversation around masks, vaccines, and testing.

Lucien Gross



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