Masked, Distanced and Ready to Learn: Many Students have Returned to In-Person Learning this Spring

The “new normal” has been around for over a year now. In April, a year after it was cemented into our lives, the “old normal” is beginning to return. 

Following the removal of asynchronous Wednesdays, the school has begun to shift towards a more normal schedule, similar to the one that existed prior to the pandemic. 

The recent change in the cohort system has breathed new life into the school. Families were asked to complete a Google survey to indicate whether or not students would return fully to in-person classes or remain virtual for the rest of the year. In addition to those already hybrid, some virtual students have also opted to return to the building. 

While online learning has several benefits when it comes to clubs, catching up on classes, and other more asynchronous activities, many students have expressed  their excitement over returning to in-person learning. 

Sophomore Xavier Guaman is one of those students who expressed relief at the increased number of students in the building.

“It’s nice,” he said. “I get to see half of the friends I had in the other cohort and have less difficulty staying off track.” 

Junior AJ Lerace also expressed his appreciation for the new normal.

“It’s nice to be back in full time because online school was harder for me than in person.” he said. “I also get to see all my friends in person now as well as a bunch of people I would normally not be able to see.”

Others returned begrudgingly, including sophomore Fiona Zheng, who said the transition back to fully-in-person learning has been difficult at times. 

“Having to return for five days is taking a toll on my sleep, making it hard to concentrate,” she said.  

Other students, such as sophomore Nashita Anis, decided to remain virtual for the rest of the school year.

“At first it was difficult and believe me it still is to adapt to a new change, but once I got used to it, I realized that staying home for school was the best because it gave me time to focus on my mental health a lot more,” she said. “I don’t feel stressed or pressured as much at home, so staying virtual for me was always the best choice.”

Teachers have already been coming into the building five days a week since September, but as a wave of students has returned to the building, daily interactions and instruction in the classrooms has changed dramatically. Many students were shocked at how different the classrooms looked on the first day back. 

The district has taken measures to ensure that all desks are equipped with plexiglass partitions to allow students to sit in their classrooms amongst their peers safely with proper separation. 

On top of that, many teachers and now students have already begun the vaccination process.

“I am excited for students to come back to the classroom,” Mr. Pepe said. “One of my favorite parts of teaching is being able to talk with my students and it’s just not the same talking to a computer screen and reading Zoom chat messages.”

As we continue throughout 2021, there are still some feelings of uncertainty, but, given recent changes, many might see this as the beginning of the end of the pandemic chaos.