Finally the moment we’ve been anxiously awaiting is approaching; the day the endless sea of black boxes and blank faces on the other side of the screen washes away.
On March 15, students who selected the hybrid option will be going into the school building for classes two days a week – Mondays and Wednesdays for students with A-K last names and Tuesdays and Thursdays for those with L-Z.
To help students who chose to remain virtual stay unaffected, all classes will still abide by the normally scheduled times we’ve been using since September. For those coming into the building, new precautions such as one-way hallway traffic, temperature checks at the two entrances into the building, and increased cleaning procedures will be in place to keep the classrooms virus-free.
Despite the levels of stress of moving into Stage Four, there’s an undercurrent of excitement buzzing beneath the promise of returning to school that even the concern over COVID can’t entirely erase.
“I’m so excited to go see my friends and actually have a routine again,” sophomore Jacob Frysinger said.
Even with adapting to a virtual system, there are some things that can’t translate through a computer screen.
“I’m really happy to be able to see my teachers and get help one-on-one in person,” sophomore Elmira Rahmani Mofrad said. “I think being in person with my teachers will positively impact how much I am learning in class. However, I am concerned that other students will not take the protective measures seriously and will break those protocols in place.”
In addition to concerns over safety, there still remains the concerns over how transitioning back into a more rigid school environment will look after a year of online learning.
“I am very excited to see my students, but I can’t ignore the events of the past year and how they have impacted me and my family,” history teacher Jessica Byrd said. “I know we will experience some bumps transitioning to hybrid, but I hope for as smooth a transition as possible.”
As much as we all want to simply return to the normal schedule that up until COVID-19 we were convinced was set in stone, the atmosphere we will be returning to is not the same one we left. A lot has happened over the past year – limited time spent with friends, getting used to going out with masks on, adjusting to attempt to learn from the confines of our bedrooms. Some of us don’t feel safe outside of our homes. Going back to the building won’t change any of that.
“I really miss going to school and seeing my friends,” sophomore Zaina Nilamdeen said. “Virtual school has required me to hold myself accountable to a higher standard than I was before so I can stay on top of my work. As much as I want to go back to school for hybrid, I just don’t think it’s safe enough yet. The last thing I want is to risk bringing COVID home to my family.”
Unfortunately, potentially being exposed is something that we’re going to have to get used to.
“I think the thing we all have to understand [is that] once you start getting more people in buildings, then you have the possibility of potentially more close contacts and more people coming in contact,” principal Darah Bonham said.
These are sentiments that seem to be mirrored in the majority of the students and teachers returning to the building. But we all must do our own part to make sure that we can continue with the hybrid system for as long as possible and see beyond the four walls of our homes.
“If you can get past the optics of seeing people with masks on, I hope what you can find in that moment of time when you’re in a classroom feels normal with the teacher who’s in front of you instructing,” Bonham said.