About a year after the initial COVID-related shut down, Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS), began offering a hybrid in-person learning option for students. For many WAHS students, this was their first time in the school building. With COVID-19 protocols and a new schedule, hybrid learning is a substantial adjustment for all.
Many students are excited about returning to school. Freshman Aiden Bakich said, “I’m excited to go back to school because I can see some of my friends whom I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Similarly, freshman Nathan Simon said, “I’m looking forward to going back in to see all my friends and getting back in the school atmosphere.”
Despite the excitement of hybrid learning, some freshmen are anxious about COVID-19 and adjusting to a new format of learning in a new school. Simon said, “I think going into school as a freshman might get a little confusing, so I’m hoping I don’t get lost.”
Freshman Ema Johnson said, “I’m worried that people might be bad at keeping their masks on, but I hope nobody gets COVID.”
For many students, hybrid learning will provide them with the opportunity to better focus during class and connect with classmates and teachers. “Getting to learn in a better environment for myself is just as exciting as seeing my friends, it can be pretty hard to focus at home,” said Bakich.
“I think it will look different with COVID changes,” said new student Luke Reifenberger, “but it will be much better than learning online. Especially if we’re going at the same pace in-person as online.”
While there are many concerns about the spread of COVID-19 from faculty and the ACPS school board, WAHS students are optimistic about hybrid learning being safe and low-risk. Freshman Eleanor Connelly said, “I’m excited for the opportunity to go back safely. I think it will run smoothly and once everyone is adjusted, it will be a great experience.”
Administration has implemented strict measures to follow the Center for Disease control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines within the school.
Many students are looking to teachers and administrators to make sure there is still some fun in the school day. Freshman Quinn Rielly said, “I’m worried that school won’t be fun with the COVID restrictions. I hope that by the end of the year some of the COVID rules will subside so that we can spend more time with our friends.”
Simon believes that “just letting everyone interact in a smart COVID friendly way will keep everyone happy and school fun”.
In the past year, the ACPS school board, teachers, and administrators have adapted to the global pandemic by developing new learning options and techniques , and many students believe that everyone must be patient while we adjust to a new hybrid learning system. Connelly said, “In the past year with COVID, I’ve felt I have noticed that patience with others goes so far. This is a new situation for everyone and being understanding and kind to others will help everyone get through this time.”
Simon commented, “It’s going to be interesting to see how it works and how it all folds out but it’s a new experience for everybody.”
Overall, freshmen are eager to go back to school and are looking forward to meeting teachers and spending time with friends.