What Do Students Think About In-Person School?

After spending a little over a year entirely online, students have begun returning to campus.  Lower and middle schoolers have already been back for on-campus remote learning as well as social and emotional learning (SEL) opportunities. Upper School students have returned for athletic conditioning and SEL. While some express excitement in seeing friends and classmates, others are wary of going back before everyone is vaccinated. 

Rachel K on a balcony enjoying the view (Rachel K)

Freshman Rachel K. is anxious about going back in person yet plans to return to campus. “I’m a little nervous because the teachers will still be remote and not the whole class will be returning. I’m not sure it will be quite what I’m expecting.” However, she is also excited. “After so many months without seeing people, I’m sure it will be great no matter what.” 

Stella B. ’21 is also looking forward to being back on campus. “I think it will definitely benefit my mental health.” Staying inside all day and attending school in the same room where one sleeps can take a toll on a person’s well-being, concluded The Open University’s study of  Students’ Experiences of Anxiety in an Assessed, Online, Collaborative Project. Stella also looks forward to interacting with her classmates and getting back into the routine of getting out of the house and driving to school. 

Cyana L with a penguin (Cyana L)

Cyana L., a new ninth-grader who has never been on campus for classes, shared the same excitement about returning to school. “I really want to meet new people and make new friends, which has been really hard during this time because we don’t have as much time to connect with each other online.” She was also disappointed that she won’t get to meet her teachers or advisor yet. 

Hana O. ’21 also plans to return to campus after spring break. Both her parents and grandparents are vaccinated, so she feels somewhat safer about returning to school. “I also want to be on campus again before I graduate,” she said. “For me personally, discussion-based classes were harder in a remote setting.” With people trying to figure when to mute and unmute as well as other difficulties that come with remote discussions, Hana finds all the more reason to return to campus again. 

However, some students aren’t too fond of the idea of returning so soon. For some, health is a major concern to them and their families. Others find online learning rather enjoyable and would rather not return to campus.  

Jessica L. ’24 expressed her concern regarding the safety of her and her family. “My parents and I both think that until we reach herd immunity, it’s best to stay at home.” Since children under the age of 16 are not yet allowed to be vaccinated, she feels safer continuing online learning. “Online learning hasn’t been particularly hard for me, so I don’t mind doing it a bit longer until I feel safe going back. I can rewatch lessons and take notes at my own pace. ” 

Another student who has requested to remain anonymous is concerned about the transition from online to in-person school. “The transition would be kinda hard, and school ends in two months, so I can just go next year.” Since students have become accustomed to waking up later, not having to budget time to get to school, and having more free time, this student is worried about managing a more demanding schedule by returning to campus.  

As schools begin to open up again, it will be up to students and their families to decide whether they want to go back in person or not. The reason behind those decisions varies from person to person, as well as each circumstance. This year, students learned more about themselves, getting to know what works for them and what doesn’t. The decision to go back on campus is not as simple as wanting social interaction or wanting to stay at homestudents also have to take into account their mental and physical health, along with the state of their household.