With a new year comes a new semester and updated reopening plans for Coronado High School (CHS) students. Beginning February 1st, CHS plans to follow a hybrid schedule with cohorts of students who opted to return to campus. Looking back at last fall’s phased approach to returning to campus, some students have experienced the best of both worlds: in-person and virtual. Divided into three separate cohorts, Naval Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (NJROTC), Associated Student Body (ASB), and special education classes were among the classes brought back to school. What was their experience like on campus? What do they hope to see for future reopenings? I spoke with several Islanders about their insights and opinions on going back to school.
Kelli Morris is a member of ASB, which resumed class in-person on October 6 as part of Cohort 2. She shared that her class was divided into two groups, Cohort A and Cohort B. Kelli returned to campus as part of Cohort A, which included ASB seniors. Cohort B consisted of ASB juniors and sophomores, and the two groups alternated coming to school every Monday and Wednesday.
“I’ve found that learning in-person is very different from learning online. Getting to talk with my teachers and classmates face-to-face is so much easier in-person than through a screen,” Kelli shared. She also pointed out the benefits of learning virtually, including gaining more sleep and saving time getting ready for school. “I’ve also noticed that my teachers have to keep us from talking to one another during in-person class, which was a huge change from Zoom, where the class is silent and teachers have to ask students to speak up.”
Kelli realized just how loud classrooms could become, and she missed chatting with her fellow classmates during breaks.
“Just being on campus and seeing everyone’s faces made things feel normal again. I’ve noticed that the energy of my classes are much higher and more positive in-person. Now that on-campus learning is suspended through winter break, I am definitely super eager to get back in the classroom!” Kelli shared.
Most events ASB had been planning were cancelled due to the campus closure and stay-at-home order. Kelli shared what a huge disappointment it was to have to scrap the activities on which students have worked diligently the past few months, but she has stayed optimistic and hopes that when ASB returns to campus, they will be able to host numerous events to make up for lost time.
“I’m so grateful that I was able to experience being on campus again, and I hope we can go back soon!” Kelli expressed.
Eleventh grader Declan Dineen is also a member of the CHS ASB. He shared that the first day back at school was an excitement shared by everyone. His classmates spread out in the quad and completed tasks in groups, allowing for social interaction while outside. Regarding the campus reopening, Declan is eager to return to school in-person for the second semester as well as follow a somewhat normal school schedule.
“Online learning has been a challenge to say the least, a shift of focus, level of concentration, and the surroundings it has brought,” Declan shared. “I’ve only been at CHS for about a year and a half, I can’t imagine being a new kid having to meet people and get involved. That’s why I think it’s so important to transition back in-person to allow for that social/academic interaction. Whether we go back in-person or continue virtual learning I’m trying my best to stay optimistic regarding how things are currently playing out.”
He brings up a noteworthy point about how students new to CHS and Coronado are unable to interact with new faces and make friendships. Normally during this time of the school year, Islanders are comfortable with their teachers and have established their circle of friends. Now, most freshmen and new students have never even set foot on campus. Declan hopes that through ASB, students will be able to safely connect with new faces.
“With learning, I hope we all can still stay engaged and connected while still having an enjoyable second semester,” Declan concluded.
Sophia Bates is a member of CHS’s NJROTC. Beginning October 27, she attended class along with the rest of Cohort 3, which included NJROTC, weight training, and yearbook. Sophia shared that although there weren’t many students in class, she was still grateful to interact with people in a familiar environment again.
“Personally, I miss the social aspect of going to school every day and meeting people in classes,” Sophia explained. “But as much as I wish we could go back to a normal education system, I do appreciate being able to sleep in right until classes actually start.”
After the campus closure, Sophia found the most positive aspect of distance learning is sleeping in, and she has taken advantage of these unprecedented times by getting much needed rest. Without the hassle of preparing for school in-person, students can wake up, turn on their computer, and attend class. The time and energy saved traveling to and from school has also provided a benefit to learning virtually for both students and parents.
Overall, learning virtually has provided unexpected benefits, but also some downfalls as Islanders have navigated these troubled waters. With the help of ASB outreach and socially distanced interactions, most are looking forward to returning to campus and seeing what the future of 2021 brings.