What Going Back To School Was Actually Like

In the weeks leading up to August 17th, I was extremely nervous. Cases were on the rise and now sit at 392, with 334 currently recovered and the death toll at 4. While reading through back to school plans, I became increasingly worried as the new Covid-19 schedule looked confusing. It seemed the hallways would be impossible to navigate. But, as I write this after a full week of in-person school, I can say that I’m surprised with how things are working out.

I originally wanted to do online school. I felt that if I have the necessary technology and support at home, then I should just stay home so I could do my part in flattening the curve. But with the extracurriculars I participate in, I had to choose one or the other, because I wasn’t allowed to do a hybrid of online and in-person. One particular extracurricular is an asset I need for college and future career success, and denying students the option to participate in a hybrid schedule is extremely problematic. It’s pushing more kids into in-person school, which will ultimately lead to an increase in cases as we’ve seen happen all around the U.S. already.

Even if cases don’t rapidly increase within the next few weeks, I beg the question: why couldn’t they just take that one extra step so that the chances of another wave decrease?  I think many students came back for that reason too, whether it was because certain AP classes weren’t offered online, or they still wanted to participate in music classes, etc. There were many restrictions to online school that made it extremely hard for some students to make that choice.

Earlier when I mentioned that I was surprised with how things were working out, I don’t mean I’m particularly impressed. I just mean that it isn’t the complete dumpster fire all students were expecting they’d show up to on the first day.

Although the new bell schedule we’re working with was puzzling at first, students have started to adjust as best they can. It has worked to decongest the hallways and provide more distance between students as we walk from class to class. It’s not a total fix to the social distancing we need, but it’s definitely a start. For student safety reasons, I won’t share the new bell schedule, but according to one of my teachers, this new schedule will take away about 100 hours from each class per school year.

Not that I could have designed this schedule any better, but it seems as though this could put a lot more stress on teachers, and they already endured so much through the spring semester after we suddenly made the switch to online learning. I have an immense amount of respect for all of those teachers who pushed through that complicated struggle of teaching online in the spring. I can see now that many of them are starting to incorporate more online tactics in their teaching. As a student, this provides a lot of peace of mind as we all make our way through this weird time. I’m sure it will make for a much easier transition if we ever have to stop in-person learning.

Before coming back I was worried that masks wouldn’t be taken seriously after I saw the rest of the country’s reactions to mask requirements. So far, though,  they haven’t been much of a problem, and in an effort to keep everyone safe, teachers have been extremely strict with the mask mandate. Throughout the day, we’ll even get mask breaks, which is where all of the students distance themselves as they stand outside and take off their masks for a moment to get a breath of fresh air. Ironically though, with the Pine Gulch fire raging the past couple of weeks, it was better to be inside wearing a mask, than to breathe in the ash raining from the sky. This is such an incredibly odd time to be living through, and students and teachers are trying their best to navigate the safest and most effective ways to get through it. I’m hoping all of these efforts to stay safe will continue past the first week.