Harper Chen

Taiwan Ministry of Education Fellow
School of Law: Law (JSD)

Biography

Harper earned her Master of Arts degree in National Development from National Taiwan University and a Bachelor of Laws degree from National Cheng Kung University. Harper’s research interests focus on law, political science, and international relations, particularly in the area of constitutional law, administrative law, human rights, and alternative dispute resolution (e.g., arbitration, mediation, negotiation). 

Before coming to Washington University, Harper worked as a legal research assistant in Congressman’s office and non-governmental organizations, in which she conducted legislative and policy studies on international and cross-strait relations.

Harper is currently working on her doctoral dissertation regarding the balance between confidentiality and transparency in international arbitration.


McDonnell Academy Global Leadership Visions | OPINION

It is time to reopen schools and bring students back to class!

The crux of the controversy arising from COVID-19 centers on whether or not to reopen schools.

An analysis of the present circumstances compels an affirmative answer. In the spring of 2020, all states closed schools and shifted to online learning in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. So far, some of those states have fully or partially reopened schools while others still haven’t. 

Although digital learning is innovative and flexible, it cannot replace traditional education

because physical schooling proves to have several unique benefits, particularly in terms of the quality of education, learning experience, and free meals to children.

Firstly, while children are developing their skills regards to behavior, emotion regulation, and attention. Students are able to concentrate harder in a physical classroom than if they were at home. Teachers can teach children how to control and manage their feelings or behavior depends on the situations directly. Ultimately, children will gain a richer understanding of the lessons and a higher quality of education.

In addition, a face-to-face learning environment fosters dynamic relationships between students and teachers. By actively seeing a teacher convey passion about a topic, the full extent of teacher-student interaction will be achieved. Children can also promote peer social interactions because they are able to communicate and participate in school activities with their classmates in person. Traditional classroom learning can overall enrich children’s learning experience.

Furthermore, according to National School Lunch Act, children studying in public and nonprofit private schools should be provided with low-cost or free lunches each school day. The purpose of the Act is to prevent parents’ financial situation from affecting their children’s health. However, needy children have been affected by school closures because they could not receive nutritionally balanced meals as normal, and it may damage their health if they cannot afford to pay for meals.

Given the foregoing disquisitions, I am of the considered view that while resumption of face-to-face classes is crucial, it should be noted that the system must be carefully planned before returning to the traditional in-person method of learning at schools, and the conduct of in-person classes is necessary to be subject to special restrictions, including: (1) assigning the same seats to students in classrooms every day; (2) staggering breaks between classes; (3) wearing facial, and improving hygiene through washing of hands or use of sanitizer before entering classrooms and not physically passing objects back and forth between students frequently; (4) ensuring that ill students stay home; (5) and not undertaking activities involving large gatherings.

While vaccinations in the country are underway, it is still important to take precautions to protect the lives of students and teachers. Consequently, if the above restrictions can remain well, it is time to reopen schools and bring students back to class!