News,  Opinion

Student Opinions on Returning to School

A Breakdown of how Students are Feeling about the Hybrid Model at TC

Nora Malone

After almost a year of online learning T.C. students are finally returning to the building. It won’t be the same as last year, with students only going in two days a week, hardly anyone in the classrooms and of course, mask wearing. But it’s a step in the right direction.

Students have lots of different reasons for going back to school. Mily Palma, a sophomore, said, “My reason for going back to school is [because] I’m trying to get out of the house.” 

This is a feeling shared by many. Being stuck in the house for a year with parents and siblings is not at the top of most people’s bucket lists. 

Mental health is a big deciding factor for many students in the choice of hybrid or virtual. 

“I’ve always been someone who’s able to get my work done on time and do it fairly well, but I’ve noticed that during virtual school, I lost all motivation to do my work. It was during the end of the first semester when I really began noticing a lot of changes in my mood and my productivity,” Oliva Krusue, another sophomore said. “It got to the point where recently I had to have a discussion about maybe going to therapy; which is why I’m returning to hybrid because I’m able to go to school without a severe risk and I know that it’ll be better off for me in the end.” 

Krusue is not alone in her opinions, Isabel Class, a freshman, agrees. “I’m going back [to school]; my mental health has been wrecked and I need to see others.” 

This shows Titans are not only remaining aware of their physical health, but also their mental health when choosing to return because mental health matters just as much as physical health.

Some people, like sophomore Elizabeth Lane, were ready and excited to go back, but aren’t entirely happy with the way some things are being done. 

“I just think that certain aspects about hybrid learning don’t seem very well thought out and logical. For example, I have ADHD, and focusing at home can be very difficult for me, so I thought returning to school would be a good idea, and I would be able to learn more effectively. But my teacher told us that since he is not returning to school, we are going to be in another teacher’s classroom with their class, just sitting on Zoom in the back of the classroom whilst the teacher teaches their class there.” She continued, “That kind of shocked me because I feel like it would be super distracting to have a teacher in front of you in a classroom talking, while also being on Zoom for your own teacher and trying to pay attention. I know ACPS is trying their best, and it’s a hard situation, but certain things don’t make much sense and could be avoided in my opinion.”

Many Titans share in these sentiments are are feeling conflicted about going back to school. Senior Ema Winkler, says “The main reason I want to go back is because I miss school and I want to be around people my senior year so it almost feels normal. I’m also worried that if I don’t go back I’ll experience F.O.M.O. [fear of missing out] because I know people who will be there.” She continued that despite her decision to go back, “There’s always the risk of catching something at school.”

Contracting COVID-19 is still a possible risk of returning to school. This continues to worry many students, some so much that it is the overall deterrent.  

Nyla Fox, a senior, said, “I would also have to see results that Covid had not been spread throughout the school in order to come back.”

She is not alone in her decision. More than half of T.C. students will not be returning for the very same reason. Both students and teachers still feel the risk is too high for them to return, whether it be because they have an immunocompromised family member, or simply fear of getting sick. 

While T.C. has just begun the early stages of its hybrid model, Bishop-Ireton Catholic High School (B.I.),  also in Alexandria, has been hybrid all year. Alex Cuenco-Olaya, a senior at B.I., said “Being in person does force you to pay attention in class and get back to the old routine before covid, which is nice, but also being able to stay home and get an extra hour of sleep and not have to worry about things like packing, lunch, or traffic is also nice. I think it’s a really great balance given the circumstances at the moment.”

Overall, T.C. students opinions’ on returning are as diverse as the student body itself. While it may be difficult for those returning as they adjust in the second week back in-person, T.C. students will rise to the challenge with hopes of a normal return in the fall.