Is it safe to go back to school five days a week?


Mahika Dang

At Edison Intermediate School (EIS), starting April 12th, all students had the option to go to in-person school five days a week instead of hybrid. There is a debate as to whether this is the right choice for EIS and if Principal Dr. Matthew Bolton made the right decision. This is a big step to take, going back to school similar to how we did last year during this pandemic. But, many think differently, like how eighth grader Audrey Bassolino stated, “I don’t see any issues with going back to school during this time. Everything else has pretty much turned back to normal.”

This option to do five days fully in person came from President Joe Biden having the goal to get all kids back fully in person by the end of his 100 days in office. He is the one pushing schools, specifically kindergarten to eighth grade (K-8) schools, to open five days a week. To him, and to many parents in Westfield, this option is safe and should be available to students. The news reported that: “President Biden said his goal is to open the majority of K-8 schools by the end of his first 100 days in office. Asked to clarify what he meant by ‘open,’ Biden said ‘I think many of them five days a week. The goal will be five days a week’ in person…he said he would focus on K-8 schools because they’re the ‘easiest to open’ due to the relatively low transmission rate of the coronavirus between children.”

There are advantages and disadvantages to switching to five days fully in-person. What switching to fully in-person five days a week means for EIS is mixing the cohorts together, as well as increasing the amount of students in indoor spaces. This means students are not able to stay fully 6 feet apart every moment of the school day. An email sent to all parents from Dr. Matthew Bolton stated all the risks and precautions the school will be taking because of this change. Dr. Bolton stated, “There will be times and locations where we will not be able to ensure 6 feet of social distancing between students.” 

Most seventh grade students like this new five day schedule the best. Eighth graders at EIS prefer the first schedule, with four 50 minute periods and one 25 minute period daily, with 15 minute check-ins in the afternoon. In that same schedule, on Wednesdays, the school day would end at 12:30 pm. However, this upcoming schedule also has some fans, with most seventh graders looking forward to it and feeling that, in their opinion, this is the best schedule this year so far. According to seventh grader Valentina Ciucci, “This new 5-day schedule is my favorite schedule we have done so far.”