Before students and teachers returned to in-person learning in early March, they shared what they expected and what they thought would be different.
Most students haven’t seen their friends face to face in some time and have just had a general lack of physical social interaction.
“I’m most excited about being able to go out again and see some faces,” sophomore Brian Le said. “[Even if you] go out, you don’t really see anyone outside, and it’s really lonely.”
Many believe the initial return will be awkward. Safety measures like six feet social distancing, students not being permitted to loiter in the hallways will be in place; and with the alphabet being split into two parts, each going two days a week, friends can be split up.
“Socially, it’s going to be a little bit odd at first, especially because a lot of my friends that I know are staying home or have names on the opposite side of the alphabet,” freshman Eva Jaber said. “I’m interested to see if we can go outside when the weather is better and, still with masks on, socialize because of better ventilation.”
Teachers also anticipate seeing actual faces as compared to gray avatars and taking advantage of in-person to create better student-teacher relations.
“I’m looking forward to maybe seeing some more colleagues in-person instead of on a computer screen, and actually seeing some of my students, because a lot of those students have that camera phobia,” English teacher Andrew Wax said.
Online learning has been hard for many, and in-person will be helpful to a lot of students, with teachers being more available and having more materials widely available at school.
“When you’re at school, you have that work environment feel. You can ask the teachers questions better and get help directly,” Le said.
For many classes, there will be a concurrent model in place with some students in the classroom and the rest still online. Teachers will be teaching both groups at once. While “concurrent” implies that things will be together, the two groups will be generally separated and unable to work together effectively.
“We can’t have in-person students on Blackboard Collaborate with the online students because of the school bandwidth,” Wax said. “We can post the chat so that they can respond to it; and they’ll also have cameras to talk to those online, but the majority of my students use the chat instead of the microphone so I think we’re gonna lose some of that interconnectability.”
Even working together in-person can be difficult with social distancing in place, but it is a requirement by FCPS for safety. Surveys will be taken every so often to check for healthiness and masks are required by everyone.
“I think there will be a few people who try to just let down their mask and be a little reckless,” Le said. “It’s not going to be the most safe. But it’s going to be okay overall.”
As students and teachers return to the building, they go back with excitement and anticipation. Though opinions differ and this will very much be a trial and error scenario, school is finally in session.
“I’m interested in seeing how this will play out,” Jaber said. “I miss school. I miss being inside the building. If people are going back in-person, I’m excited to meet them, and if they’re staying virtual I’m still excited to hopefully see some cameras!”