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A School House Divided


Mass difference in opinion creates controversy about current schooling options

Opinions and feelings ran hot in September as two influential student body leaders sparked controversy online after they posted video blogs expressing views on return to school.

Presley Bodenshot, ASB President, was the first to voice her opinion on whether or not students at PRHS should be able to return to in-person schooling, advocating for students’ right to choose to continue distance learning or go back to campus. Her five-minute video, posted to Instagram, received thousands of views, with many of those viewers voicing their opinions in her comments section, whether it be to support Bodenshot or refute her opinion that students deserve a choice in whether or not the student body returns to school in person.

“I knew people were not going to agree, I basically predicted who was going to voice their opinions very strongly, but I was not expecting people to react so rudely. I think the controversy is good though because either way it brought attention to the topic,” Bodenshot stated.

Not one day after Bodenshot’s video went live were response videos made, most notably was Kasey Nguyen’s, senior class president, who believes that as case numbers are still high, it is not yet safe to return to school physically. 

“What inspired me to make a response video was that I definitely feel really passionate about school and everything but with COVID happening right now, I just thought it wasn’t the best decision to open the schools up. I felt like I should at least address the other side of the topic,” Nguyen said.


These videos revealed the hard division that PRHS is facing. When surveyed, 28 percent of students thought that school should resume full time whereas 24 percent of students thought we should continue full-time distance learning with the rest of the students falling on a spectrum of going back just two days a week or after winter break.

 Despite mass differences of opinion on in-person learning, the school board has already put plans into motion to have certain CTE courses return to school in small groups, and is planning on voting Oct 7 for the whole campus to return to school two days a week with the earliest return date being Nov 30. No matter what their opinions, students face a partial return — classes half-sized and scattered in a schedule yet-to-be finalized– January 1, 2020.

If school were to resume safety precautions such as wearing masks would be implemented to prevent the spreading of the virus. When asked, eight percent of students said they would not wear a mask.

“This isn’t about a virus so masks should be optional,” one anonymous student said.

“If you can enforce a dress code you can enforce mask-wearing,” another anonymous student stated, demonstrating the disconnect of beliefs between the campus.

The staff at PRHS exemplifies a similar split between distance learning and in-person learning. 

Among teachers, 38 percent would not feel safe if students were back on campus while 46 percent of staff said they would feel comfortable returning to school.

One anonymous staff member said, “COVID + 1000’s of teenagers = irrational.” A different staff member made the comment, “Based on the evidence, I do not believe coronavirus to be any more dangerous than the flu.”

“I feel students need to get back to school as soon as possible but only when it is safe to do so per the guidance of the County Health Department and the CDC and the CDE,” Principal Anthony Overton commented on the subject.

While Bodenshot and Nguyen demonstrated the division on campus, they did not create it. They two later made a video together following the backlash they both received. The main message of their followup post stated that no matter the difference of opinion two people may have, there is no excuse to be unkind to one another.
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    Geoffrey LandOct 8, 2020 at 10:02 am

    Again, Crimson continues to shine, even in the darkness of our Covid caves! Great and important article by Ms. Dimatteo — well written and so relevant to our current moment. I’m also so impressed by Ms. Bodenshot and Ms. Nguyen, who both are so thoughtful and eloquent in expressing their views. Most noteworthy to me, however, in the joint video they made together revealing that (like RBG and Scalia) differences of opinion need not eclipse civility and mutual respect. This article and your voices give me hope in the future.