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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jul. 29, 2020 8 months ago

High-schoolers share thoughts on returning to school

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The COVID-19 pandemic has created a multitude of unforeseen issues within our society. The most pressing issue for many families is the issue of sending their children back to school.
by: Guest Writer

Julia High
Windermere Preparatory School

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a multitude of unforeseen issues within our society. The most pressing issue for many families is the issue of sending their children back to school.

Schools around the nation are working to ensure a safe, timely return, but that’s not feasible for everyone. Here in Orange County, OCPS has offered three options for returning to school: A face-to-face option, where students will return to traditional schooling with heightened safety measures in place; the [email protected] program, an online version of in-person school; or Orange County Virtual School, a pre-established method of online schooling.

Many groups have been consulted about sending children back to school, from medical professionals, school boards and more. One group that hasn’t had much of a say is the students themselves. So, how do students feel about returning to school? 

To get my answer, I interviewed two local high school students. Gabby Puryear-Lynch is a junior and student-athlete at Windermere High. Camila Perez is also a junior at Windermere High. 

Are you returning to school in person or online?
Gabby: I will be going back to school online, using a hybrid program where students go through the school day virtually.

Camila: I’m returning to school online.

How do you feel about your school’s proposed safety measures?
Gabby: My school is still allowing kids to, if they choose to, go back to school in person, with required masks and social distancing. I understand the need for an in-person option, but I’m not very confident in the safety measures put in place and feel that online school is the best option for now. The online school plan is still vague, even as the school start date approaches, so I’m a little stressed about that.

Did you have any choice in your decision, or was it up to your parents?
Camila: I was the one who made the decision to go back to school online, at least for the first semester. I am still very aware of the virus, and I thought that going back would not only put myself at greater risk but others as well.

As a student-athlete, have you been able to practice your sport during these times?
Gabby: I’m very grateful that my swim club has had the resources to return to the pool. We started workouts over Zoom, as well as open-water swims, from the start of spring break until late March. We then got the OK to come back, although with changed rules and smaller groups. We have to wear masks and sanitize our hands before entering the pool area, and every swimmer has a separate lane and side of the pool to maintain a proper distance from one another.

What are you going to miss the most about traditional school?
Camila: I’m really going to miss seeing my friends on a daily basis as well as interacting with my teachers in person.

Gabby: I’m going to miss the small interactions with people and just being able to be around friends and see people in my classes. I now feel wary of going near my classmates and have lost a feeling of security and safety that I won’t be able to get back.

I’ve spoken to many of my peers over the past few weeks, and there’s a diverse range of perspectives on the issue of going back to school. However, one common theme is that we all miss how things were before this pandemic. So don’t forget to wash your hands, wear a mask and follow CDC guidelines. We all hope to return to a sense of normalcy soon. Let’s work together to make our hope a reality.

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