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The Environmental Impact of Returning to School

School, hybrid, virtual, learning, environment

The Environmental Impact of Returning to School

⏱ Read time: 2 minutes
Since September, students have gradually returned to an in-person learning environment. Coronavirus has changed our day-to-day lives along with the ecosystems on our planet. Covid-19 caused animal populations to regenerate in unprecedented ways. As life reverts to the way it was in 2019, we will see our planet respond. I decided to examine how returning to school will affect the environment.

Read: Coronavirus Won’t Stop Climate Change

Heating and air conditioning

First, school buildings - which probably had heating and air conditioning off or on low power - will have to maintain room temperature. (This is assuming that the schools have sufficient heating and air conditioning.) Heating and air conditioning require power and energy, which will in turn increase fossil fuel emissions. It's important to note that if students' homes no longer contain occupants during the day, reducing the heat or air conditioning can counteract those emissions.

Technology

In virtual school, every student uses their own device, usually a laptop or desktop computer. In-person learning requires fewer devices turned on because the teacher is the only person who will use technology. This depends on the school. At some places, everybody will use laptops, and some schools will use very little technology. Charging computers uses energy, but they're more effective than paper.

Transportation

I'm going to keep this section short, as EarthPlex has an entire post about the most sustainable mode of transportation when going to school. Basically, if more students travel to school via car or bus, carbon emissions will rise. Make sure to check out our post about the most eco-friendly way to go to school!

Final thoughts

As a student, I can confidently write that going back to school is a good thing. The environmental effect of returning to school is mixed, so I recommend doing what you feel most comfortable with.

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