When schools closed in March 2020, many students were excited at the prospect of not having to attend school in person until April. However, their excitement soon faded as they realized how difficult online school would be.
Now, with in-person school back in session for the 2021-22 school year, students are eager to return to a more normal learning environment.
Many students expressed relief that they can now return to a format that aligns with their preferred learning style.
Anjali Alwar, 15, a sophomore at Skyline High School, said that she looks forward to a more structured schedule and building better study habits. She feels that things like learning new concepts, doing group projects, and paying attention are so much easier in-person than online.
Shweta Sundar, 13, an eighth grader at Pine Lake Middle School, said that she is excited to meet new people and learn in-person.
“I feel like I can just focus better in school,” Sundar said.
Besides learning, several students told the Sammamish Independent that they look forward to having a social life, something they lost almost completely last year.
Six grade student Yago Mathis of Inglewood Middle School really wants to experience riding the bus and walking in the hallways with other students.
“These things just have their own flair in middle school,” Mathis said.
For Rithwik Garapati, 17, a senior at Eastlake High School, this school year will give him lot of new experiences. Garapati is a recent immigrant from India, and right after he arrived in the U.S. last year, he was confined to going to school remotely.
He simply wants to “see how the school works and make new connections.”
To accommodate both online and in-person school last spring, Discovery Elementary School reduced their standard two recesses down to one.
Fifth grader Henry Chung, 10, said he is excited to have two recesses.
While many students are excited to chat with peers and meet friends in-person, they also recognize that it might not be as easy to interact with them as it had been pre-pandemic.
Sundar, the eighth grader from Pine Lake Middle School, said that while she was excited to meet people, she was also anxious. It has been a long time since she has seen them, and masks make it much more difficult to have a conversation.
“I guess I’m just a little frustrated with people not being able to hear me with my mask,” Sundar said.
Some students are annoyed with having to wear masks for long periods of time and adjust to other safety precautions, but they understand the necessity.
Sundar said that she hopes the delta variant can be contained “if we just keep wearing masks, socially distancing, and sanitizing.”
The risk of COVID-19 spreading through the school community is a concern for others.
Alwar, the sophomore at Skyline, said she’s worried about “people not wearing their masks correctly.”
Isha Bhagwat, 15, another sophomore at Skyline High School, said that “people traveling during holidays” might also cause significant COVID spread.
Both Bhagwat and Alwar are unsure of how long schools will be able to stay fully in-person, especially after seeing many schools closing or quarantining students in Texas and Florida, where schools opened earlier.
Alwar believes school administrators could change safety protocols by the end of the first semester. This could mean additional safety measures, or if vaccines improve, the removal of some precautions. Bhagwat added that it’s “kind of a learn-and-go situation.”
Although students are skeptical and a bit anxious, many do hope that school will stay in-person for as long as possible.
“I really don’t want to go back to online school,” Mathis, the Inglewood sixth grader, said.