Pushing and Pulling for In-Person Learning

As local high schools begin to reopen, parents, students urge Stevenson to follow


On October 12, parents and students gathered at Stevenson High School to rally for in-person learning, their latest push in a series of efforts to reopen the school. While Stevenson is still conducting remote classes, many local schools have begun to reopen.


Due to rising COVID-19 cases, the administration decided to continue with remote learning for the first semester. However, many students and parents disagree with this decision.


Their largest concern is that they believe remote learning impairs their ability to perform academically. Some students, such as Kyle Park ’23, say they are having trouble focusing in their classes due to countless distractions at home. 


“I have electronics around me so I don’t focus in class as much as I should,” Park said. “I just get bored of it and sometimes do bad on formatives and tests.”


Some students who share the same perspective as Park are taking initiative. For example, Students For Reopening SHS (@studentsforreopeningshs), a rising Instagram account run anonymously by student(s), has sparked much controversy over their push for in-person learning.


“If it was possible, I would say [to reopen] tomorrow, yet the second semester is the earliest, reasonable suggestion,” an account representative said. “Kids are not dying from this and they need social interaction.”


Parents have taken a similar stance to the students in the fight for in-person learning on various social media platforms, the most popular choice being Facebook. They have advertised a petition “Bring the Students Back to School,” which has accumulated over 400 signatures and even created their own, private group “Reopen Stevenson High School” with over 600 members. Some parents have even commented directly on Stevenson’s Facebook posts. 


On October 12, many people gathered outside of Stevenson to rally for in-person learning. Remote learning has proven to be challenging for some students.

“Schools are opening around you. It is time to open SHS,” one parent commented. “It is time to answer the needs of the students who want to return to school.”


While many parents and students are opposed to remote learning, the administration stands by their decision to remain closed. Though both groups are concerned about academics, the administration holds steadfast to their beliefs on prioritizing safety.


“The challenges of bringing kids in here and trying to keep them safe—it doesn’t feel like it makes any sense,” Principal Troy Gobble said. “Why would we put kids in danger and have the same instructional model, knowing that it will be more complicated and probably slower for the curriculum?”


Many teachers agree with the stance that the administration has taken. They feel that remote learning is the best option at the moment despite the challenges. Fine Arts teacher Timothy Myers, echoes these sentiments.


“The virus is ticking upwards, and we need to listen to science. I know that it is tough but we just need to be patient,” Myers said. “Living through this is more important than a temporary setback to our normal daily lives.” 


Community members pushing for school reopening also point to other issues beyond academics. Parents are worried about a general deterioration of their children’s mental health due to lack of social interaction from remote classes.


Reporters from CBS 2 record footage of the October 12 rally. Many news outlets arrived at Stevenson to cover the event.

“They feel jailed! They are getting depressed!” one parent commented. “Open the school! That is the only way there will be any growth!”


In response to the distress, the administration has made efforts to accommodate the requests to reopen the school. On October 9, the administration announced a new initiative called Patriot Pods. This optional opportunity would allow students to enter the school campus and continue attending their Zoom classes. Students would be in a classroom with approximately eight other students in a socially-distanced configuration.


However, the administration sent out another email on October 18 announcing their commitment to “Adaptive Pause,” which puts a halt to these, and all other, in-person activities. Due to rising COVID-19 cases, the administration followed the recommendations of the Lake County Department of Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health to adopt this method. 


During these unprecedented times, the administration acknowledges that remote learning isn’t ideal. However, they believe that people must be realistic with the situation. 


“I understand that people want it to go back to normal— we are a ways from normal,” Gobble said.