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Students Petition for a Virtual Learning Option

Kallie Schmeisser '22 Lead News Editor Amir McFerren '24 Assistant News Editor
Hopkins’ decision to return to campus for in-person learning has been controversial amid the Omicron surge.
Some view the schools’ lack of a virtual learning option as irresponsible and contributing to the surge, while others are confident that Hopkins’ current guidelines should be enough to prevent an outbreak among its students or faculty.

Some students have worked to turn their frustrations into change. Felipe Perez ’22 started a petition titled “Hopkins Allow Remote Option,” in which he said, “I, as well as many of my peers, feel that the new changes to the Health and Safety Guidelines are lackluster, irresponsible, and fail to properly address the surge of new Covid cases in our community.” The petition has 319 signatures as of this writing.

When asked about changes Hopkins has made since the petition was started, such as the new schedule which introduces a fourth lunch wave, Perez said, “I don't see how the new schedule has made any real change to COVID safety on campus. Lunch rooms are still full and unmasked, and often students have to go in lunch waves they are not assigned to in order to make it to rehearsals, club meetings, or extra help.” Asked about the new testing program, Perez said, “While the tests are a wonderful, albeit late, precaution, there is still more the school can do. A stricter mask mandate and/or some kind of distancing in class would be helpful.”

Other students have echoed Perez’s thoughts. Yaqub Bajwa ’22 cited the plights of immunocompromised students and family members: “I believe that an online option is absolutely necessary. At Hopkins there are students who are immunocompromised and students who have family members who are immunocompromised.” Bajwa continued, “It is not fair at all that the school is making them choose between their family and their safety for their education.” Leela DeSilva ’22 said, “Without a doubt I do believe schools need to make an online option. During the pandemic, many individuals do not prioritize school. Instead, they prioritize their own health and the health of their family.”

Other students are confident that the precautions already taken by Hopkins will be enough to protect their health. Zachary Williamson ’22 said, “I think the school has done as well as it can given the realities of the Omicron variant. The truth is that transmission rates between masked, vaccinated young people are relatively low. They’re not [zero], but they’re low.” He also mentioned that “a virtual option takes away some of the most important elements of learning.” DeSilva added that she had “mixed views on [virtual] learning. It can be difficult not seeing friends, having to sit at a desk all day, and having to struggle to pay attention.”

Perez expressed confidence in his own health, but added “my grandmother, who is 81 years old and had not gotten her booster as of [January] 5 (she was not yet eligible), was at significant risk for life-threatening illness. Even outside of my household, I recognize that I could infect unvaccinated individuals in my community who may be at risk for hospitalization or death.”
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The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
     
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