Changes to the Cohort System Could Cause the School Year to go Downhill


From Kast.Com

Tavishi Chattopadhyay, Staff Writer

This is an opinion article piece. Tavishi Chattopadhyay is a sophomore at Mendham who writes for Global and Domestic News. All opinions expressed in the following editorial are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Patriot.

December 8th of 2020, Principal Ryan sent an email throughout the school that detailed plans to move to a two cohort system. There seemed to be much outrage over the changes and rightfully so. These changes could potentially create an unsafe environment for students, staff, and teachers alike. 

The Morris County Health department released statistics that demonstrated that the number of cases in the county is predicted to increase, with some cases still pending on positivity. This is without the recent knowledge that high school is increasing in size. In Mendham Township, the cases for January 7th are at 141 and future days showcase increasing as more cases are entered in. A similar result is shown in Mendham Borough. Along with that New Jersey’s Health Department released a report that showed that most of New Jersey had a high covid level. With this increase in cases, increasing the number of people in the school would be dangerous because it would be harder to keep the students’ social distance as the number of people would double. With social distancing procedures harder to follow the risk of COVID-19 would increase. 

Another issue with the plans to increase the cohort size is that many individuals feel that their own feelings were not taken into consideration. Originally there was a survey sent out to parents and guardians that allowed for one of two answers to be filled in for each situation. One of these answers was that the guardian or parent would pull their child into all remote learning and the other answer was that the guardian or parent would continue having their child in the hybrid learning environment. However, many were disappointed that they weren’t provided their own opinion instead of selecting options. In fact, this calls into question the transparency and the integrity of the decision-makers behind this change. 

While there is a backlash to this decision, supporters of ideas like this one state that this is safe for both students, staff, and teachers. A National Geographic article states that “This 40,000-person study found that children under 15 were about half as likely as adults to be infected, and only half as likely as adults to transmit the virus to others”(Parshley). While nice sediment, high schools have a majority of students who are above the age of 15. So therefore it is likely for us to transmit COVID to our family members or to others in the community and vise versa. Even if that wasn’t the case, there would still be a risk of adults transmitting COVID to the student body. With more people in the school at a time, there’s a higher chance of these situations coming to pass. Another argument is that if families have worries about getting infected by COVID then they should keep their children all remote. Yes, that is the ideal solution but for some students, that’s not a possibility. Students’ home lives may cause them to find refuge in school, so for those students going all remote is not an option. 

In conclusion, the recent changes being made in the cohort system have faced controversy because of COVID concerns. And while these changes face controversy, people were very content with the previous three cohorts system. Perhaps it would be simpler to stay with that system until everyone has access to the vaccine.