Wake County high schoolers return to classrooms after nearly a year at home

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Photo Courtesy of Marie Acosta

A large red arrow directs students and staff past the chained-off locker bays.

Erin Sockolof, Opinions Editor

Despite concerns of some Wake County residents, high school students are slowly filtering back into classrooms. There is currently a three-week rotation plan that has students broken up into four cohorts. Students in cohorts A, B and C are in-person for one week, then they are remote for two weeks. Meanwhile, students in cohort D, also known as Virtual Academy, remain at home.

However, the Wake County Public School System’s Superintendent will decide today on whether or not schools will allow all students to come back in-person full time. Of course, all students will have the option to remain in Virtual Academy if they so choose. 

Cohort B student Bradley Dysard is enjoying this renewed chance at in-person education.

Some things are just better to do in-person,” Dysard said. “For me, school has always felt comforting, [there’s] something about meeting new people.”

Some things are just better to do in-person”

— Dysard

Angela Sajewicz is a senior in cohort C who sees not much of a difference between being at home and being in-person.

 “It’s almost the same thing at home because [when you are in-person], you go to class, log on and then you join the class [online],” Sajewicz said. “We just learn through the screen, even when we’re in-person.”

However, that’s not the only reason she feels this way. 

“All of the different hallways and arrows [are confusing]. As a senior, I should know the school,” said Sajewicz. “I just can’t imagine being a freshman.”

Thankfully, there are always staff members guiding the traffic and enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing. 

Despite their different experiences, however, both students had nothing but praise for their teachers. 

“My teachers are doing very well in my opinion to juggle both virtual and in-person school; if you are in the classroom, they don’t give you extra work to do, and if you need help with anything, you can ask them,” said Dysard.

The students are not the only ones with opinions on coming back to the classroom. As you could imagine, teachers have been excited to have some students coming back to the classrooms. Chelsea George is a science teacher who feels that bringing students back to school has positively impacted them.

“It’s really nice to meet students face to face,” said George. “I’ve also seen some improvement when it comes to getting work turned in on time.”

Heather McDonald is an English teacher who feels the same way as George.

“One positive thing I’ve seen in in-person instruction is that the students are able to complete assignments during class time instead of needing to manage distractions or other obligations,”  McDonald said.

Hang in there. You can do difficult things and do them well”

— George

McDonald sang high praises for the faculty who work hard to keep the students and themselves safe.

“We are cleaning the classrooms and keeping students spread out,” McDonald said. “I feel that everyone is doing their part to minimize any risk.”

Despite all of these changes to our day-to-day lives, some people think certain things should not change.

We all remember the concern seniors had last year about the prom and graduation. These events are often seen as a right of passage for students. One last hoo-rah before pursuing higher education or career and entering adulthood. 

But what happened to smaller school traditions like the Senior Lunch? Well, despite Covid-19’s best efforts, it still happened, just with some adjustments.

“We all had to face forward,” said Sajewicz. “You wanted to turn sideways and talk to your friends. It was definitely interesting.” 

Despite these differences, some students still said it was an enjoyable experience. It started to return a sense of normalcy to the students who have had nothing but questions since last March.

This past year has been full of crises, scares and many real-life plot twists. Needless to say, everyone has been struggling, especially students who are used to being around hundreds, if not thousands, of class-mates every day. George has some much-needed kind words for them.

“I look forward to maybe meeting you in the future,” George said. “Hang in there. You can do difficult things and do them well.”