Around the country, students are embarking on the back-to-school season. Whether online or in-person, this year holds a lot of unique concerns.
“I’m currently a senior in high school. I started school back in early August. I’m lucky to live in a state that hasn’t been hit hard by COVID and a small town that hasn’t seen a COVID case,” one student wrote on Reddit.
“Though [due] to the [effects] of COVID such as economic effects it will be harder for me to find a better job, even with a welding certification.”
A lot of kids who are going back in-person are skeptical as to whether or not it will last.
“We’ll be home in a month,” a Las Vegas eighth-grader said.
“Some kids will be more responsible than others. I’m not looking forward to it but I’ve got to go to school so I’d rather be there in person.”
A Wisconsin freshman will start her year online after her school revoked their in-person learning option.
“At first I was wanting to go back to school in person but I feel like, watching the numbers in Wisconsin, it makes more sense to go back virtual because it’s rising,” she said.
“It’s pretty boring at home but what can you do? Last year the virtual was easier for me to slack off at home because it was a loose kind of thing, but I feel like this year will go a lot better since they’ve had the whole summer to prepare.”
Some are fine with the way things are but note that a lot of the elements that make school fun for kids are gone for the moment.
“Masks and hand sanitizer have become the norm,” another student shared.
“But classes are just [as] full as they’ve always been. No cafeteria or school sports. Group work is no longer a thing. It’s pretty 😒.”
A few students have copped to the fact that it’s a pretty bleak environment. Understandably, it can get them down.
“My brother is going to physical school again and it’s basically like a prison,” one person starkly compared.
“The students are in groups of 5-6 called cells, they have blocks to go outside. Block A will go for 15 minutes then Block B. They eat with their little cells, masks mandatory. Nobody can move around the class.”
Those learning online are struggling to see the bright side.
“It’s better because now I don’t have to wake up early to commute,” one student considered. Still, there was one element that was seriously lacking.
“I can do work on my own time, but not getting any social interaction [expletive] sucks,” the teen lamented.
Some students feel that wearing a mask so many hours of the day has made them hate the idea, even though they know it’s what’s being asked of them.
One student described some of the changes. “Masks, occasional social distancing, I used to not have a problem with masks but after wearing one for 7 hours a day, you start to hate them,” they admitted.
“But the thing is you take your mask off for lunch and athletics, this means that it will definitely spread anyways if someone comes with COVID. It’s a good thing we live in a rural area and not a big city at least.”
One student decided to open up about the fears they had about going back. For older kids, the anxiety aspect is one that concerns both parents and educators.
“Honestly, [I’m] scared [expletive]. Like think about it, if a teacher gets sick, they have to quarantine, for 14 days. Then their 20 odd students have [to], and every class those students go to have to, and every class those other-other students go to also have to quarantine,” they wrote.
“Effectively, if you have 1 case, the whole school has to quarantine, then who is the sub? Do you hire a sub? Does the sub get hazard pay for stepping into a place where there is confirmed COVID19? Or does the regular teacher still continue teaching? If they don’t, do those count as sick days, because some school districts give you a set amount if sick days, then if you go over that it takes away from your vacation days.
“We are rushing to open our schools, saying ‘it’s needed for the students’ mental health’ but there are so many unknowns like kids see what their parents do, so if dad refuses to wear a mask, the kid won’t wear a mask, then you are denying Education to a child. Like, it’s a scary thing.”
“I’m risking it. I did absolutely horrible with online classes,” a middle school student shared.
“The way my school did it was to just do the work posted in Google classroom with little interaction with teachers, and because I get distracted easily, I just barely passed. Plus, I get to collaborate with other students and see my friends.”
One student ultimately decided to drop out of high school for the time being. “I dropped out because I don’t want to die, and I don’t want my family to die, and I don’t want my friends to die, and I don’t want to be the cause of any strangers dying,” they said.
“Is that enough? I feel like that should be enough.”
It seems high school students struggled the most with the decision. They are aware of the many intricacies of the issues at hand in a way younger kids are not.
“It will not work at all. The halls are already crowded to the point where you are touching a good 6 people,” one shared.
“It’s impossible to keep everything clean, as we will touch everything we see. Masks won’t work as kids who think they’re too cool won’t wear them and antivaxxer kids, it’ll just start some weird rebellion.”
They also have more of their peers’ opinions to contend with than other kids.
“I’ve been trying not to be too paranoid about the virus at school, but it’s hard,” one sophomore from Connecticut shared.
“Half my classmates are like grown adults and the other half are like 4th graders. If you joke about it at all, the ones who think they’re adults think you’re dumb and don’t pay attention to the real stuff. If you take it too seriously, you get [expletive] from kids who think it’s all being overblown.
“I’m somewhere in the middle but the social environment is getting so uncomfortable I kind of wish I chose online where I could be left alone.”