To go or not to go: students have differing perspectives on returning to school

Siri Mandava, Of The Talon staff

Why I’m staying virtual

With the COVID-19 pandemic still continuing throughout the community, many students are returning back to school while others opt to stay online. I am one of the students who decided to stay online and I can tell you that while there are obvious cons of online school there are also several pros, and many different perspectives of the decision to go back or not. My decision to stay online was largely based on my parents view on it. Both of my parents did not like the idea of me going back in general but there were several reasons why I chose to stay online as well.

One of the biggest reasons I decided to stay online was because of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the concern with getting it while at school. Out of my three classes, two of them have almost thirty people so in those classes I would be around a lot of people which would be more of a risk. Another reason why I chose to stay online was because of my family. I have two younger siblings, one in grade school and one in middle school. Both of them ended up staying online so it didn’t really seem fair to them for me to put them at risk by going to school when they were staying safe at home. My younger sister goes to one of the four grade schools and since they went back before us my family and I  were able to see an example of how students going back was going. There were a couple cases at the grade school that we found out which really concerned my mom.

After it was starting to look like my parents were not going to let me go back I thought more about going back or not and I decided that I would be able to manage doing my classes online this quarter if I was able to do it last quarter. Since all the Zooms are recorded, I would be able to go back and watch the lesson if I missed a class. Because there are only three classes this quarter I also have more time to study and do work and with not having any travel time between finishing school and going home it makes it easier to start my homework right away.

Overall, I decided to stay online because of my family’s decisions, but I am hoping that soon everyone will be able to go back in-person safely.

Why I’m going back

Lily Tarticchio | Of The Talon staff

Students were offered the option to return to in-person school on Thursday, Nov. 12. I, myself, am one of the many students who are returning. I feel as if this is the best choice for me personally, for various reasons. I typically learn best around my peers, instead of individually at home. It is also safe for me to return due to the fact that I am not surrounded by anyone who would be greatly affected by Covid. Being at school is also important to me as a student because normalcy (which for me is everyday in-person school,) plays a great role in my mental health and happiness.

I tend to learn best around my peers and teacher because it is easier for me to ask questions and get the help I need. When Rockwood was all virtual, it was a hassle to get help from teachers. On Zoom, you can’t lean over to a friend and ask them to repeat something the teacher said. You have to email the teacher, and sometimes set up a certain time for help. This often unmotivated me to get the help I needed, which overall affected my grades and learning experience. I also enjoy learning by other people in a classroom because it’s easier for me to get work done alone. When there are no distractions, such as a TV or device, to keep me from doing my work, I get it done faster. The quietness and formality of a classroom ultimately helps me independently succeed. Apart from that, in-person learning is also far more of a structured education, than asynchronous learning online. For some people, this might not be a helpful thing, but for me, it keeps me on track.

Another role that plays into my decision to return, is the fact that my close family does not have any pre-existing medical conditions that puts them at risk of becoming extremely ill if they catch Covid. If I lived with someone elderly or with someone who had a respiratory issue, I would most likely do the smartest thing and not return yet, for their sake. This is why I understand some of my peers’ decision to not return yet; I have no idea what is going on in their personal lives.

One of the ultimate factors that made me decide to go back, was honestly my mental health. Learning online, alone in my room all day was depressing. I was distracted all the time and it was so easy to stop paying attention in class. I felt like I was learning absolutely nothing. Not having a strict schedule or being able to leave my home during the day, really messed with my happiness. I really genuinely missed seeing my teachers and peers. I’m not a very independent person, I’m not a loner who is content on their own all day. Online learning left me feeling empty in a sort of way. After feeling like I was learning nothing, each day felt like a waste. With just a few days back at school, I am already far more happier and comfortable with my learning experience.