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Opinion: Hybrid Classes Can Lead Schools to Success

For the first time dating back to the fall of 2019, back-to-school time really does mean going physically back to school for students in local districts and nearby colleges — but with a healthy asterisk.

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(TNS) — For the first time since the fall of 2019, back-to-school time really does mean back to school for students in local districts and nearby colleges — but with a healthy asterisk.

This year, many students around the Yakima Valley have the option of taking hybrid classes. Some days classes will be held in person, some days they'll be conducted online. Fully online options are still available, too.

The approach on campuses is similar to what's going on in many offices and other workplaces. Bosses across the country are discovering that some employees have come to prefer a mix of in-person and remote work.

This dramatic reset started as a health precaution during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, of course. But all those months of working from home and taking online classes seem to have set in motion a fundamental societal shift.

Nobody should be surprised. For generations, Americans have dutifully reported for work on rigid schedules, forsaking time with their families, pets or the freedom to take an impromptu walk on an unexpectedly beautiful winter morning.

Now, after years of grand visions of how technology would someday simplify and ease our lives, we're realizing that, hey, it really can.

No doubt grants are already pouring in for studies to further define and predict how this shift will affect the workplace in the long run. But you don't need to be a grad student to figure out that people prefer to work at their own pace on their own terms.

Moms like it. Dads like it. And yes, we predict schools will find that kids like it, too.

The hybrid approach seems especially promising for students. As we've seen, isolation puts kids at risk for a range of serious social and mental difficulties. They need to be around other kids to develop and learn naturally.

That's why the past few years have taken such a toll on young people, contributing to some of the lowest test scores we've seen in years.

The hybrid approach, however, will put students back in closer contact with peers and teachers, making direct communication — and learning moments — easily available again.

As Yakima Valley College English instructor Dodie Forrest explained to the YH-R's Vanessa Ontiveros, "I just really enjoy being present with students; I feel like there's just really good energy and synergy there."

At the same time, hybrid scheduling will also allow for a healthy amount of flexibility.

We congratulate the schools that are taking the hybrid approach — it seems long overdue.

We'll be surprised if by this time next year, academic scores haven't improved just as much as workplace productivity has under the hybrid approach.

Yakima Herald-Republic editorials reflect the collective opinion of the newspaper's local editorial board.

© 2022 Yakima Herald-Republic (Yakima, Wash.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.