By Alex Hernandez-Zavala
“A dismal failure thus far.”
Upon taking office, these are the words of President Joe Biden speaking about the vaccine rollout in the United States, reported by Kaiser Health News (KHN).
The vaccine rollout in the United States has been lackluster, especially in Northern California, where the supply for people needing their second dose is short. An LA Times article surrounding the matter explains, “securing a first dose is getting more difficult. That’s because large amounts of the new supplies are being reserved for people needing their second dose — leaving fewer shots for everyone else who’s eligible.”
Though Northern Californian counties, such as Yolo county, are in Phase 1b, as detailed by KCRA, we’ll need to ration our supply. Once our frontline workers and elderly are vaccinated, we should focus our efforts on getting our teachers vaccinated and kids back in the classroom.
Even though the vaccine rollout wasn’t executed in the best way, we are still progressing and are nearing the next phase. Among those in Phase 1b, as detailed by the CDC vaccine rollout guideline, teachers should be at the top of the list.
It’s no surprise that students’ academic performance over the past year has dipped––for various reasons. But the main impact of this is the student’s environment. In a classroom setting, every student has access to the same resources and materials as their peers do, but that changes dramatically as those resources become limited when moving to an online-only environment.
The best example of this is an internet connection. In an online environment, internet connection varies from household to household. Some households may not have access to the internet. Though some schools in the Nor-Cal area provide a hotspot for students who don’t have access to an internet connection, they are only temporary and limited in the capacity they can perform.
Though students will have a different experience going back to school, once officially back, they will have the same access to those missing essential resources needed for academic success.
Not only would students benefit, but the whole community would reap from its benefits as well. The Sacramento Bee offered survey results of what counties are most likely to reach herd immunity first, depending on how many people opt to take the vaccine. Though this survey doesn’t offer any demographic information, if teachers were the first to take the vaccine, that would build rapport among the rest of the community and give a more positive outlook about the vaccine.
This issue has definitely hit home.
I have seen the shortcomings of an online curriculum firsthand. I have a little sister who’s in the first grade and has been doing online schooling for almost a year. I remember when I was in elementary school, class was from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., yet she now goes to school from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
It’s pathetic. That isn’t enough instruction time, and it’s showing.
Right now, my sister struggles with reading and writing. I’ve tried to help, but I have so much on my plate already that I have enough trouble finding time to help her. My parents also can’t provide comprehensive help since English is their second language, and they have a limited education.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on her teacher’s availability; it’s virtually nonexistent.
Usually, Cesar Chavez Elementary School, the school I went to and the one my sister is currently enrolled in, had an after school program where students would get homework help, food, etc. But, the resource was scrapped––a necessary program that extensively helped me during my elementary years.
It just provides more proof that the online system is simply not working.
Education is paramount to keep our societal stability and continual progression. Though the last year was a drawback, we need to get students back to the classroom and back to an environment where they can strive once more.
Alex Hernandez-Zavala is a first-year student at UC Davis, double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. He was born in the Central Valley and raised in Salinas, California.
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