COVID recovery: Students, teachers work to return to normal

Reily Dominy

The year 2020 was a year full of adaptation, confusion, and binge-watching TV shows. It was terrible for many reasons, but one event that affected most students and teachers was online learning. Quarantine made it difficult for both online and in-person students to get a comprehensive and coherent education. Transitioning back to school for the 2021-2022 school year has also been difficult, but most people are glad to be moving back to something a little more normal. 

“Having school online was really hard because all the assignments were very different and it was hard to understand from a screen,” senior Arissa Mejia said. “I definitely prefer it in person. It is easier to understand and get information rather than just being on the computer and figuring out assignments myself. This year has already been so much better, but it has been difficult to be in a classroom all day.”

Other students agree that focusing on their online school work was difficult in all classes and have appreciated the discipline being back in class requires.

 “Staying on track with things and actually paying attention in class was difficult last year,” senior Eila Teizer said. “It was much easier to just get out my phone and text someone while the teacher was teaching  something than when I was face-to-face.”  

It was not only the students who struggled with the difficulties of virtual schooling; many teachers faced difficulties managing students and making sure they learned everything they needed to during the year.

“The worst thing was trying to manage online kids and in-person kids at the same time,” IB English teacher Lisa Prejean said. “I tried to do online Zoom in real-time so the kids would be able to attend their class with their classmates, but it wasn’t the same as having class discussions in person. ”

Though there was a little more time to plan for the 2020-2021 school year than the previous year when the country shut down after Spring Break, managing the technology side of things proved difficult as some students did not have access and others were not well versed in using it.

“We had never experienced a shutdown like this before so it was hard to include students from home on zoom,” English teacher Cynthia Dominguez said. “They couldn’t hear very well and the technology wasn’t really that advanced. Juggling the emails and everything was just too much and now the pandemic seems to be getting under some control so COVID isn’t really an issue as much as it was last year.”

Knowing the students and having a personal relationship with them helps the teacher better understand what students may need to succeed. 

“I feel so much better this year and the stress is by far lower than last year,” Dominguez said. “It’s easier now because if I can see a student then I can help them when they need me. If they have to wait for me  to respond to their emails or schoology messages, it takes a lot longer.”

Getting used to being at school has been an uphill battle, but it’s getting easier every day.

“Classes are definitely a lot louder now, and it’s not as easy getting used to when in the past year I was probably one of the only students to show up,” senior Morgan Scarborough said. “Now, I have maybe twenty kids in all of my classes.” 

Though Morgan prefers some aspects of other students being online learners, she also sees the benefits of having everyone back in classes.

“I got a lot more one-on-one with teachers in case I didn’t understand something when so few students were here,” Morgan said. “I had more opportunities to get help, but it was also harder to do group projects or have group discussions.” 

Students also feel that they missed out on normal high school activities because the online barrier prevented them from doing so. 

“I wish I could have participated in theatre because I know we kept on doing productions and theatre pieces,” Eila said. “I decided that if I’m not going to school then why should I go to practice and theatre where everyone is probably not going to have a mask on either.”

Students were not only socially affected, but academically affected as well. 

“I just stayed home all the time, and I definitely wish I could have come to school to earn better grades,” Arissa said. “I’m glad I’m able to be back at school for my senior year. Everything isn’t back to how it was, but things are a lot more normal.”