Reynolds Middle School in Fairview, Oregon (just outside of Portland) has just decided to go back to virtual learning for the next three weeks. The school plans to implement new safety protocols, the reason for the shut down being that the children lack socialization skills, an issue they're blaming on the year of distance learning. Their goal is to improve the "necessary social-emotional supports... (and) to provide a safe learning environment for all students", according to superintendent Dr. Danna Diaz. In-person instruction is slated to resume on December 7th.
"The shifts in learning methods and isolation caused by COVID-19 closures and quarantines have taken a toll on the well-being of our students and staff. We are finding that some students are struggling with the socialization skills necessary for in-person learning, which is causing disruption in school for other students."
Of the biggest issues the school is facing is fights among students, as well as general behavioral problems.
Steve Padilla, a district spokesman states:
"We need to take care of this now. It’s urgent. It’s not just fighting – It’s disruptive behaviors as well. Students are disrupting other students, making it hard for them to learn."
"The safety and security of our students, families, and staff is our highest priority," Diaz wrote. "This priority is even more significant as we continue to navigate a global health crisis which required schools to provide distance learning in the spring of 2020, then slowly move into hybrid in-person and distance learning in the spring of 2021, and finally move back into full in-person learning this fall. We realize that transitioning to Short-Term Distance Learning for even a short time can be a hardship on our families. We apologize for any inconvenience this temporary transition may cause."
The decision has been met with some criticism:
Reports from The Oregonian have cited a series of violent fights and allegations of sexual harassment as some of the issues students are currently facing.