Students reflect on first semester, transition back to in-person learning

After being in isolation for over a year, students got used to joining a Zoom, not saying anything, and then leaving. Because of this, coming into the 2021-2022 school year has been challenging for many, and the lack of social interaction while in quarantine has left many students feeling overwhelmed.

“I wasn’t used to being in big groups of a lot of people at the same time. It was overwhelming and almost scary because of how many people I was seeing after being virtual for so long. It felt like I was kind of pushed into being super social, but at the same time, I think it was good for me, and I’ve gotten used to it now,” sophomore Hannah Donnelly said. 

Sophomore Ash Munson agrees with Donnelly that the beginning of the year was overwhelming. The two are also in agreement that, after being in school for a few months, they have been able to navigate the challenging transition back into a highly social settingl. 

“I wasn’t always sure what the fastest way to get to my classes was, [and] I wasn’t sure about who I would be friends with, but now I actually really enjoy the school year [and] as of this point I think I have a pretty good handle on things,” Munson says. 

Some students have even felt that, after being online for a year, they have been able to communicate with others more easily now that they are able to make connections about the shared experience of isolation and quarantine in the early months of the pandemic. 

“I think if I had been in person last year, I wouldn’t have interacted with as many people as I am right now, “ Munson states. “For example, some of my friends in my algebra class I made because they had seen me and they were in a class that I was in online, and we didn’t talk and we didn’t really interact with each other. But that gave us the foundation to be able to talk to each other [and] begin [to] have social interaction.” 

Junior Juan Schwartz feels that another overwhelming aspect of being back in-person has been pandemic related. With some peers not taking mask mandates seriously, and returning to highly populated settings, anxiety around Covid looms over many students.

“I see so many people in my classes wearing their masks below their nose or even below their mouth. I’m worried those guys are gonna bring COVID to the school. So I just don’t really feel safe anymore in school since so many people aren’t wearing their masks correctly,” Schwartz says.

Along with students feeling uncomfortable because of the people surrounding them not taking the threat of COVID seriously, students feel that they’re having a difficult time with the transition to being in a classroom setting again. And to add to that, a number of teachers returned to pre-Covid academic standards faster than students could keep up.

“I think that some teachers don’t understand [that] our learning abilities. our studying abilities are a little bit less [than] the standard idea because we’ve been in quarantine for so long and we’re not used to as much as we were pre-COVID,” Donnelly remarks. 

Even though some students think that teachers haven’t been understanding of their struggles as we’ve readjusted to in-person learning, others feel that the teachers’ and administrators’ effort is there, and they are considerate of what students are and aren’t used to after virtual learning.  

“I definitely don’t get as much homework as I used to. And I’ve never had high school finals, because after COVID they decided not to do those,” Martin states.

Despite the challenges that transitioning back to a fully in-person model have caused for some, students generally appreciate the experience.

“Personally, I think it was harder to be social right away because I wasn’t used to it,” Donnelly says. “But I think in general, like being able to talk to people again and realizing I wasn’t the only one feeling like this and seeing everyone has helped me a lot.”