Returning to School? Here’s What Your Peers and Teachers Think

Returning+to+School%3F+Here%27s+What+Your+Peers+and+Teachers+Think

As this year trudges on, the school is itching for as many students as possible to return to in-person learning for five days a week. So, how will our school days look like from now on? And more importantly, how do the students and staff feel about this?

Winthrop Middle/High School | Architect Magazine
Winthrop High/Middle School. Photo courtesy of Architect Magazine.

When I caught up with the teachers and students, I was surprised to find that the teachers and students had a difference of opinions; the teachers were a lot more optimistic for the possible return of more students whereas the students themselves were concerned about their overall safety.

One of the main concerns that the students had was questioning if the school was actually prepared for their return. One student implied the return to be “ridiculous” due to its timing, and questioned the school’s provision of equipment, but not the learning kind. “The fact we might have to sit on the floor or stand because there aren’t enough desks–the planning is  horrendous. The school committee is desperately trying to push us back into school, when we as a town aren’t actually ready yet. We could have at least waited the few extra weeks that Superintendent Howard suggested. The school committee should have listened to her.” 

Another was glad to have the opportunity to opt in on remote learning if they weren’t comfortable with in person. They noted the “challenges” of “social distancing” for the students who chose to return five days a week, saying there’s a “good chance” of rising covid cases. 

“Once more people get vaccinated I think I’ll feel more comfortable returning fully, but until then, it’s my responsibility to be extra cautious and follow the guidelines for the safety of myself and everyone around me” said a hopefully cautious student. 

Emma Foley of the Viking Times said she was nervous about her return to school due to the number of students that would be in the building. But, she is hopeful that they will all be able to stay safe and “stay on top of protocols” and is happy that her last months as a senior at the  WHS  were “somewhat normal.” While they have enjoyed the hybrid model of learning, another senior is optimistic about being “fully emerged into the school” with all of their friends and teachers. Another optimist was hopeful for the return of their fellow classmates, saying that the return will be “great” as long as everyone “follows proper guidelines” and “stays safe.”

When I spoke with the teachers, all of them were excited for the students’ full return to school.

 English Language Arts teacher and Viking Times leader Ms. Irvine, said that opening the school–safely–was a “great idea”.  “I see no problem in bringing students 5 days if they would like. I think it would be great for the overall mental health of students and teachers” she says, considering that teachers are now vaccinated and if students continue to be spaced apart. “I think it would be great for the overall mental health of students and teachers. I am hoping that getting back to some sort of ‘normal’ schedule will feel great for everyone involved. As long as everyone wears their masks and remembers that we are still in a pandemic, I think that opening school safely is a great idea.”

Mr. Lowe was just as excited. “I am happy for kids who really want to be back and I am very confident the school will do everything they can to make sure everyone feels comfortable and keep everyone safe. I am looking forward to meeting some kids in person that I have not had the opportunity to meet as some of them are coming back from full remote.”

Mr. Palamakumbura of the Science Department agrees with them as well. “I heard in the news parents saying that their children are frustrated and suffer from boredom and depression,” he says. “Personally, I think overall it is better for learning because I have observed some students have not adapted well to remote learning. I hope with increasing numbers in the school everybody behaves responsibly so that those who have health issues will not feel uncomfortable.”  

Mr. Skane of the Viking Longships  “Personally I am 100% in favor… it’s really difficult because as a parent I would be thinking very seriously of the health of my child and making sure that they’re not catching covid. But as a teacher, teaching is more successful face to face when you can actually help someone learn. I have not like remote learning however if we haven’t gone through hybrid and remote learning, then nothing would have gotten done and I don’t think that this is the best way for students to learn. As a retired teacher, I look at the students in zoom and l they look depressed and disconnected; education needs huan connection.”

But at the same time he adds, “there is a possibility that a child might get covid. Vaccines are coming out but you guys haven’t gotten it. People can say that young kids don’t get covid but I doubt that. Every student so far that has been hybrid has been excellent–always wearing their masks. I haven’t seen any situation where there has been a potential health risk.”

Ms. Delsolio is just as excited. “The full return of school will be a big change, but we will work together to make sure everyone feels comfortable and safe,” she says. “I am happy that I will get to see some of my students that I have not been able to meet in person yet!”