Teachers and students share views on vaccine and hybrid instruction



Image of Hand holds Coronavirus Covid-19 Vaccine glass bottle.

As Waipahu High School makes plans to allow selected students return to campus, teachers and students are shifting and sharing their perspectives on hybrid instruction.

Judy Goens, a math teacher in the Academy of Professional and Public Services, largely supports students’ return to campus. 

Goens feels that some benefits of returning to school for students would include social interaction, developing bonds with teachers, and introducing the beginning of normalcy. Goens also considers the availability of vaccines to teachers at schools accepting students on campus again. She says, “I’m grateful to have gotten my first COVID vaccination. I have many friends and family on the mainland older than myself who want a vaccination, but have not been given the opportunity yet.” 

However, Goens also considers that students would have to adapt to new schedules and procedures to ensure protection against the coronavirus. Fear about contracting the virus could increase, especially among those with underlying conditions.

While Goens largely supports a return to campus, science teacher Jennifer Arre says that she agrees with whatever decision the school makes that is the best for students. 

Concerned about student health, Arre says, “Safety is our top priority. We don’t want a situation where we re-open, but then numbers skyrocket again, and then we have to close back up.”

Meeting the needs of students could be difficult while also trying to protect their family members from the coronavirus. A student could contract COVID-19 on campus and possibly infect a member in their household. Students may also have to worry about their siblings if they return to school in person.  Some students take care of their siblings during the virtual school day while their parents work. Consequently, returning to campus could prevent them from doing so on their assigned letter day. 

Nevertheless, returning to school could close learning gaps and allow teachers to address each student’s needs. Arre says that in-person instruction enables teachers to effectively work with a student because “you can see the student,” rather than communicating through a screen. Arre cites the American Academy of Pediatrics when discussing the benefits of returning to school: “Schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being and provide our children and adolescents with academic instruction, social and emotional skills, safety, reliable nutrition, physical/speech and mental health therapy, and opportunities for physical activity, among other benefits.”

“This is a very individual decision for each family because there are a lot of different factors that each family will need to consider,” she concludes.

Although many faculty and staff members have already taken the COVID-19 vaccine, a vaccine approved for people under the age of 16 is not yet available. Students may eventually consider the vaccine when deciding if they would want to return to in-person instruction in the future. 

Sophomore Julia Yacas says, “I think the vaccine is a huge step to wiping [COVID-19] out of America.” Citing the effectiveness of the vaccines in current trials, Yacas says, “If I have to get vaccinated to go to school I would. It is just a safety precaution.”

However, fellow sophomore Nerissa Roxas says, “The vaccine is there to help our body create antibodies when we acquire an illness, but it doesn’t mean we’re completely safe from the [pandemic]. Nonetheless, we should still be cautious.”

Roxas said that she wouldn’t immediately take the vaccine if she had the opportunity to do so. Apprehensive towards the vaccine, Roxas says, “The vaccine is still new and even though it went through different stages before it was distributed publicly, I’d still have doubts.”

When asked if being vaccinated would change her mind regarding returning to school, Roxas says that it wouldn’t change her mind about returning. “Either way, I just want things to be normal again.”