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The Transition Back to In-School Learning

By: Brianna Kalina

Since March of 2020, the students of both of the Half Hollow Hills high schools have not been physically in school for five days a week. This, however, finally all changed close to one year after the full lockdown of schools across the country. With the increase in vaccine supply and decrease of cases in the community, our district was cleared to open back to a semi-normal form of schooling. Beginning with the seniors, all classes of high school students were welcomed back to school (if not choosing to continue with the still offered full remote option) during the week of April 5th. 

As an 11th grade AP/honors student, there are some pros and cons to this learning shift. Learning efficiently has been a huge challenge with the hybrid schedule, but over this entire year thus far, my peers and I have grown accustomed to these ways and have been making it work. It may not sound like such a drastic change, but in my personal view, this is a tremendous change. For a student with dense course work, I have felt that not going into school everyday has decreased my stress levels immensely. The extra sleep during the week, as well, has been great for my mental well-being. Although I have to put more effort into understanding the course material when at home, I overall feel this process has made me appreciate having this hybrid schedule where I am home more.

After my first week back, I was exhausted. Seeing the other faces of students I had not seen in a full year was crazy. It made me realize that I took for granted the smaller class sizes offered during a hybrid set-up, which I actually did enjoy. The desk shields do hinder my sight of the board, but it’s understandable that precautions need to be in place in order to house a full school of students. On the bright side, I definitely noticed a change in my teachers’ attitudes and energy levels. It is clear that teaching a full room of students is more exciting, and I was happy to see some of my teachers so passionate about the weeks’ lessons. Since we all want the world to return to normal, we must accept that it entails school going back to the way things were. As my first full week in over a year came to an end, I know that, in no time, it will feel normal again. 

It is crazy how this pandemic has made our learning, assignments, and assessments primarily online, and I’ve noticed that in all of my classes, things are remaining this way. This is at least one thing that will stay constant from the hybrid period and will make the transition much smoother for everyone. New rules are in place due to a large number of kids in one building, so it will take time to get things to run efficiently; however, this is the big step in returning to normal life. Hopefully, by next year, there will not have to be any remote students, and our standard life at school can return for the better!