Leesville highschoolers have been allowed to return to the classroom in smaller groups ever since WCPSS announced that it was okay for students to return. The general layout of the classroom and itinerary for the day looks different and is not very popular among students. (Photo courtesy of Alexis Mast)
After months of Wake County high school students attending online school, Wake County has finally allowed students to return to school once more.
Though it does not come with great shock, things look very different at Leesville Road Highschool. The specific procedures and rules students have to follow in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 have led to a variety of feedback from the high schoolers.
Doing school from home comes with the luxury of freedom in one’s daily schedule, as well as a less formal class start time and class transitions. “When I work from home, I’m able to work at my own pace,” wrote Ashlyn Ray, a sophomore at Leesville, via text message.
When a student arrives at school, after they have been screened and have made their way into the building, getting to their first period may not always be convenient. The hallways work on a one-way system, so getting from “point A” to “point B” isn’t as simple as it may seem. If a student were to miss their classroom by a few steps, they have to walk through the one-way hallway system again because they are unable to turn around against hallway traffic.
Caleb Thomas, a sophomore at Leesville wrote via text message, “The one-way hallway is good for control during class transitions, but it can be inconvenient sometimes.” Thomas explains how the hallway situation, much like all the other changes to in-person school, have their downsides, but positives to the new form of organization can be recognized as well.
Another major difference in the normal in-person school day is the way lunch works. Students are divided into three lunches, “Lunch A,” Lunch B,” and “Lunch C.” Not only are students separated from friends and peers by cohort, but also by their lunch grouping. The chances of being in a lunch with a familiar student have decreased from 33% to 11%.
Having a friend at lunch won’t matter that much at the end of the day. When students are on campus for school, they are unable to leave for lunch like they normally would be. They also are not allowed to talk while eating because talking without a mask enhances the chances of COVID-19 spreading.
The cafeteria and general areas for eating around the school campus look very different. Leesville is taking certain precautions to keep students and staff healthy, but those certain precautions majorly decrease socialization and freedom. “There is not much group work and interaction, and the group work helps me do better in school,” wrote Thomas.
I asked 100 highschoolers in a poll on Instagram, “Do you prefer in-person school or online school?” To no one’s surprise, 95% of the voters said they preferred doing school from home.
According to Thomas, there is no good situation during COVID-19. Being all virtual for school requires self-discipline while being in-person requires the ability to work independently and on a strict schedule.
Being in school during a normal year takes preference over both being in school during the 2020-2021 school year and being online for school.
A poll released by Common Sense/Survey Monkey shows that 59% of the teens surveyed think that online school is worse than in-person school, but only 19% of the teens want to go back. Online school itself has its pros and cons, but being in school during COVID-19 includes a whole different set of issues.
The reason why Wake County Public School System, like many other school systems in North Carolina, pushed really hard to allow students back into the classroom as much as possible is because of what in-person school can provide for a student. “But for students who lack the discipline and focus to stay engaged in front of a screen for hours on end, for those who need feedback from teachers and peers, there’s no substitute for the real thing,” said in an article by Naple Daily News.
What in-person school during the 2020-2021 school year is actually providing for highschoolers does not include club meetings, communicating with friends, games, and interactive learning styles, but it does offer a higher chance of information getting obtained in a student’s brain. The efficiency and freedom of in-person school during COVID-19 may not be preferred by the returning high schoolers, but what they are gaining from being back in the classroom goes beyond what they enjoy more.
While being in school during COVID-19 tends to not be preferred by Leesville high schoolers, the freedom of high school has to be limited to provide high schoolers with the opportunity to learn efficiently and safely.