Students should have easy ability to go virtual


MelieAn William

While the district has a virtual school option for students, changing from in-person to virtual during the school year is a challenge.

MelieAn William, Staff Writer

As I sat in my seventh period class, I was unable to focus. My mind raced as I anxiously awaited a phone call from an online homeschooling program. My teacher continued with her lecture, pointing out the due dates that were projected onto the whiteboard. Though my eyes were on the board, I did not hear what she was saying. “When are they going to call?” I thought to myself.  

Finally, my phone buzzed and my hand shot up in response. “Can I please take this phone call?” I exited the room, my heart pounded as I awaited news about the program. The call wasn’t for me, it was for my sibling. School has been hard for us since our dad passed in August and my seven siblings and I have struggled to focus or catch up in our classes.  

Though all of us are grieving differently, we all agree on one thing: Things would be better if we could just stay home and take care of our family — our mom and each other. Though some of us tried to switch to virtual learning in order to help my mom at home, we were unable to do so.

I remember filling out the paperwork, catching up on as much work as I could, and preparing myself for virtual learning only to find out that some of my AP courses were not offered virtually. I had to choose between my GPA and my mental health. I remember my mom reassuring me. She said she was fine staying at home by herself while we went to school, though the break in her voice told me otherwise. 

Instead of filling out homeschool applications, we should be filling out college applications or writing essays in class. We shouldn’t be worried about exposing our loved ones to COVID, we should be worrying about our next assignment.

But, there was no way around it. My dad had spent hours at a time lecturing us on the importance of our academics. We have always been raised with very little and my siblings and I know that universities aren’t cheap. The best chance we have at affording to go to college is through scholarships. So, I couldn’t bear to give up any of my AP classes despite the mental state I was in.

Now, only a few months later, I was making phone calls and trying to fill out homeschool applications for my younger siblings, while trying to finish AP-level schoolwork at the same time. As I finished the phone call, I was overcome with frustration with the Humble ISD school district. I would not have to fill out homeschool applications for my younger siblings had they not closed the virtual switch option. (It’s only available for face-to-face students who have tested positive for COVID or have any severe illnesses.)

I understand that they want to bring things back to normal but I am still confused by it all. It aggravates me more to know that I am not the only person struggling with this issue. I know other students who had wanted to switch but gave up because their classes weren’t offered in the Humble ISD virtual learning program.  

In fact, though some students may not be sick, people in their families may have developed illnesses— which could be COVID or other underlying diseases such as cancer. These students may fear that their loved ones are being put at risk every time they go to school but choose not to stay home for fear of ruining their attendance records.

In other cases, students have none of these issues. Maybe some students are just worried that they are constantly exposing themselves to an unsafe environment due to COVID. Yet, instead of being provided the chance to switch to the virtual learning program, they are forced to focus in an environment they fear.

The only choice that students have is to transfer to a homeschool program, with options like K12 and Texas Virtual School Network, making staying home much more complicated for Humble ISD students. I can’t help but think that things should be different.  

Instead of filling out homeschool applications, we should be filling out college applications or writing essays in class. We shouldn’t be worried about exposing our loved ones to COVID, we should be worrying about our next assignment. Instead of worrying about our safety in our learning environments, we should be given the opportunity to focus on their studies. The fact that I am not the only student struggling with this issue just makes me wonder what is Humble ISD doing to help its students in all of this?

Though I understand that we must make progress instead of sticking to the old COVID protocols, I still feel like we were forced to transition back to normal without flexibility, especially when the truth of the matter is that things are not back to normal. In fact, things are getting worse, with new variants of COVID spreading amongst us. 

I’m also intrigued that the district still advertises their virtual program, despite it not offering all courses and not providing it for all students. The Humble ISD website reads that “Humble ISD is committed to doing what is best for students and staff,” but with the lack of support shown for students and teachers who are constantly absent due to COVID-related issues, it often seems like these students and teachers are forgotten. It’s time that Humble ISD reinstates the virtual option for all students.