Dear USD 383 board members and administrators,

I am a Manhattan High School senior, writing in regard to the recent proposal to move back to a four-day a week schedule. I currently attend as a hybrid student in B group on Thursdays and Fridays. Over the summer I received my CNA certification through Highland Community College and spent a large portion of my training going over infection control protocols and the spread of infectious diseases and viruses. As of right now, it is scary to walk through the halls of Manhattan High knowing that students are not frequently washing their hands, using sanitizer stations, wearing their masks properly, or social distancing. I have personally witnessed students removing their masks in the restroom to talk with friends and walking all the way back to their class before putting them back on. These are just a few of the reasons why I feel like the student body is not ready to move back to a four-day-a-week schedule.

Once this year already I have been forced to choose between the health and safety of my family and the quality of education I want receive. I am a part of a multigenerational household that has multiple members who are at risk, from a 3-month-old baby to a 84-year-old woman. If I were to bring home the virus, it would be detrimental to my household.

I had to make the decision to attend hybrid learning so that I could pursue the education I want and deserve. Manhattan High School is known for its various technical career courses, and I consider them to be a part of what sets our school district apart from others. Four of my seven courses this school year would not be available to me if I chose to stay home, so every Thursday and Friday I risk the health of my family to go and get the education that is only available in person. I am truly disappointed that our school district is being pressured into returning to a nearly full time schedule, because once again I am going to have to decide whether or not my education is worth putting my family at risk. I am strongly considering surrendering my quality of education to protect my loved ones, however after reading the Superintendent Update sent on October 9th, I realize that it may not even be my choice anymore because “Due to staffing and class availability, the district may not be able to accommodate all requests to transition to Remote Learning, but we will do our very best.” So not only do I have to weigh my safety and education, I may end up being sent to school anyways because there is not enough staff to accommodate every online learner.

I have seen many parents and some students in favor of returning to a full time schedule, but as a student with a medical background, medically fragile peers, and at risk family members, I do not feel like now is the right time to appease that population. I know that the safety of this school district’s students and staff is of the utmost importance and concern to you, so I truly hope that you will consider this alternative perspective from within the student body. Thank you for your consideration of my opinion, and I hope that as this message reaches you, you and your family are safe and healthy.

Sincerely,

Catherine Hawkins,

a Manhattan High School senior

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