Back in Person, Once Again!

Seri Welsh, Co-Photo Editor

20th April, 2021

As in-person learning is being offered as of April 5th for the first time in over a year at the Arcata High Campus, students weigh the pros and cons of returning. (Photo Credit: Seri Welsh)

After many agonizing months of debate on if school was safe to open during the COVID-19 pandemic, two weeks ago, many Arcata High Students returned to in-person learning for the first time in over a year. The decision whether or not to return to school was a difficult one for many students. 

Sophomore Rogue Russell stated “I decided to go back [to school] because I was having a hard time focusing at home and in Zooms.” This is certainly not unique to Russell. Many students have described the vast challenges of trying to learn in a home filled with distractions. 

Freshman Natalie Lehman agreed with Russell, “my biggest challenge for learning during the COVID-19 pandemic was not being able to focus at home,” she explained.

Many in-person learners are ecstatic to finally be back in the classroom. Of 30 Arcata High School Students surveyed who returned to school, 23 (76.7%) felt they have a better education now that they’re in person. Junior Meadow Jennings decided to return to school so she could get to know her teachers better. 

She explained “my favorite part of in-person classes is being able to make connections with my teachers. When students are in class, teachers can connect a name to a face, which is something that is challenging to do over Zoom.” Jennings and Russell both agree that they feel way more connected with their teachers being in person. 

Sophomore Kyla Berman agreed, stating “it’s nice to have more human interaction and get to see your teachers’ personalities.” Being online has been especially difficult for freshmen who have never met many of their teachers and peers. 

Freshman Aliviana Bacca-Lastra said “I decided to go back just so I could meet new people and get used to the campus. I definitely feel more connected with my teachers, [though] I have yet to become super connected with my classmates.” 

While many in-person learners have expressed their joy returning to campus, 10 out of 20 (50%) completely online students surveyed expressed feeling forgotten or pushed to the side during class now that there are students on campus. 

Sophomore Madelyn Conley expressed “I do not necessarily feel forgotten about by my teachers but I do feel less connected from the class and my classmates by not being able to hear or see them.” 

Junior Ian Letts agreed. “I definitely feel like the teachers are more disconnected with the distance learning students than before. However, I don’t necessarily feel ‘forgotten’. I feel like the majority of teachers are doing their absolute best to make sure everyone is included in class through this very difficult time.” 

While learning from home has downfalls, it allows students more flexibility and leisure time. “My favorite part of doing school from home is being able to sleep in and having lots of free time. I think that for some students learning from home is less stressful because you have your own environment and lots of freedom,” junior Melina Ledwith said. 

Sophomore Ossian Briar- Bonpane chose not to return for other reasons. Briar-Bonpane expressed that she didn’t want to have to adjust to another change in her school day. “My grades and stuff are going steadily right now, so I’m glad that I can stay on that track and not have to make a bunch of adjustments.” 

Beyond the obvious change of optional in-person instruction, hybrid learning came with a change in the schedule. While Wednesday asynchronous days remain the same, class begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends by 1:00 p.m. the remaining week days. This has brought mixed feelings to the student body. 

“The new schedule affects my ability to learn negatively because my classes are shorter so my learning time is rushed and I feel that I don’t get enough out of it. It leaves me with more homework and less knowledge on the work,” sophomore Madelyn Conley said. 

Junior Melina Ledwith disagreed with Conley, stating that with the new schedule “I’m able to stay focused, and don’t get distracted by doing other things around my house during long breaks.” Regardless of opinion, it’s clear that the introduction of in-person learning is a drastic change that has affected the entire student body. 

Typically a normal school year brings great stress and anxiety to many students, this unprecedented year has brought more than ever. With constant changes in schedule and the struggle of focusing in distraction filled houses or masked classrooms, it’s more important than ever to prioritize personal needs and mental health. With some students finally able to meet their classmates and teachers, and summer right around the corner optimism is key to moving past this pandemic.