For my final radio story, I’m interviewing my fifteen-year-old sister Amy Candelario on how she’s felt completing her freshman year of high school, and how the summer in quarantine has treated her. Recently, at G.A.R. Memorial High School, where Amy attends, the administration has offered parents and students two options for learning this fall: In-class learning, which would require students to attend classes five days a week, or remote-learning, which would require students to attend online classes five days a week. She’ll give us a little insight soon how her last marking period went, what were the challenges of learning during quarantine, and what kind of outlook she’s expecting in September when school’s officially open.
Host Intro: With the summer coming to an end, and with classes just around the corner, parents, educators, and students across the country face the implications of changing learning options in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic. While some schools are functioning through remote-learning only to avoid the spread, others plan to re-open completely for in-person classes with new health precautions in place. At G.A.R. Memorial High School, in Wilkes Barre PA, deciding which learning option is more efficient, and which is safer, is left to the families. Parents are now required to fill out an online form in the coming week to indicate whether their children will be returning to school in the fall or taking online classes from home.
AMBI1: (Computer keys clacking, some background noise in the kitchen)
AMBI2 Room Tone: (Nat’s fade down, and now it’s just the room tone where the interview takes place)
TRACK 1: Amy Candelario, a rising sophomore at G.A.R. Memorial High School, recently filled out her online form through her school portal for online classes with the help of her mom, Zairy Polanco. Here, Amy tells us about the choice to not go back to school for in-class learning, and what she expects for the Fall semester.
ACT 1: “I think schools shouldn’t reopen, just for the safety of their students, and not catching COVID-19. It’s better for all students to stay at home instead of going outside with COVID-19 out there. You can get sick very easily, and it can happen very quick, you’ll never know, and schools should really re-think what they’re doing, think about their students’ safety. Even if we have masks, it’s better to stay home, rather than going outside and being with other people.”
TRACK 2: Although the Pennsylvania Department of Health has reported fewer than 4,000 cases and 184 deaths in Luzerne County where Amy’s school is located, the state of Pennsylvania itself has had over 119,000 confirmed cases, and over 7,000 deaths in total. Although the amount of cases reported have decreased drastically from April to July, the re-opening of schools in other green-phase cities around the country have had to backtrack and re-close schools after cases spiked in students and teachers.
ACT 2: “Online classes were hard because it isn’t the same without the teacher right in front of you. And I also miss my friends. We’re texting now, or talking in [online] classes, or so, answering questions from teachers. At least I got to stay home with my dog, with my family, being safe from the outside. And it was hard to get used to at first, but slowly I got used to it, work was easier, I’d get it done. And sometimes I would almost miss it [homework] but I’d get everything done at least. Get a good grade, pass ninth grade, and it wasn’t too difficult, now that I think about it.”
TRACK 3: Although Amy’s transition to online classes in March wasn’t simple, like that of millions of students across the country, it has prepared her greatly for what her sophomore year is supposed to look like once summer draws to a close.
ACT 3: “During this summer, I’ve been watching some shows, training my dog, and in the Fall I’ll be taking advanced Chemistry classes, and other AP classes as well, they’re going to be harder, but I think I’ll survive.”
TRACK 4: With the re-opening of towns and cities around the country, all kinds of health precautions have been put in place for businesses and institutions, but schools still pose a great risk to the health and safety of students, educators and their families. Remote learning has quickly become the standard for safety in education during this pandemic. Although many schools like Amy’s are giving families the ability to choose the learning environment for their children, the price of what in-class instruction may cost to all of those involved makes online learning the only viable option. For Baruch College, this is Ashley Candelario from Wilkes Barre, PA.