Student response to school reopening

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Image courtesy of BHUSD.

Kate Kotlyar staff writer

Karely Molina Martinez staff writer

BHUSD announced that BHHS and BVMS are on track to return to in-person learning on April 8. While the majority of students do not want to return to school, overall, students share mixed feelings about the ability to return to campus. 

On March 9, LA county reached an adjusted case rate of 5.2 per 100,000 people, making it safe for high school and middle school to reopen. In a Highlights survey sent to the Beverly student body, which received 237 replies, 62.4% of students said they do not want to return to campus for hybrid learning, 24.9% want to return and 12.7% have no preference. 

Junior Emma Maurer does not plan to return to school because she does “not feel safe” due to COVID-19. She believes that the return to campus should only be done for the “betterment” of both the students and faculty. 

“I hope that [the return] is done in a manner because the district thinks we really should be back, not because they’re getting pressure from parents and not because they’re getting money if they go back at a certain time,” Maurer said. 

Similarly, junior Jessica Smiler does not plan to return because of the “huge risk factor.”

“I feel like just because cases are lowering and people are getting vaccinated, doesn’t mean [we should] get back into the swing of things because I feel like if we do that, then it’ll just counteract,” Smiler said. “I don’t trust people our age––I’ve seen Snapchat, people are partying with no masks like it’s nothing.”

Additionally, senior Erika Butler and sophomore Sima Arslan are concerned for their safety. Arslan does not want to return until most students are able to be vaccinated. While the Pfizer vaccine is approved for ages 16 and older, as of right now, Los Angeles County will only administer the vaccine to people aged 16-64 if they have severe health conditions, along with the previously approved groups. 

Because she is a “social person,” junior Nicole Kimele wants to return to school. 

“I’d like to return because I feel like my grades have been going down because of the lack of the social aspect. So, that’s my main reason for wanting to go back,” Kimele said. 

Like Kimele, junior Eli Ramer and sophomore Miles Kottler feel that going back to school will help facilitate a more effective learning environment. 

“I feel like being in person as opposed to online is just a better learning environment, it makes you feel more of a school environment than just being online. It helps me focus more and just to pay more attention,” Kottler said. 

On the other hand, junior Lea Ankri is worried that returning to school will add “unnecessary stress” and her grades will drop, especially with AP exams approaching. 

“I’m not quite fond of the idea of rushing back to school primarily because AP exams are coming up. It’s going to be a lot of pressure like going back to school and having to change the way we study and throw us off track,” Ankri said. “I’m scared that I’m going to feel so behind, that I’m gonna be so stressed out and that I’m not going to do well.”

Junior Kate Lewis feels similarly to Ankri. Her “biggest concern” upon returning will be balancing school work. 

“I don’t know how, in the past, I balanced school along with doing a lot of other extracurriculars. When I’m at home, I’m able to do other things and be more active with writing and pursue a lot of things that I wasn’t able to do [in person],” Lewis said. “So, if we went back to school, I’d have to cut back on all those other things, which would suck.”

Senior Ava Dadvand wants to return because she “really want[s]” to see her teachers and be able to socialize with them outside of class time. 

“I really prioritize good relationships with my teachers and I miss not being able to just chat with my teachers at lunch or right after class. I’ve been doing weekly office hours with Dr. [Steven] Rubinstein just to chat about whatever because he has time, but for my other teachers, like Ms. [Catherine] Pincu, [they] don’t have time to do those meetings. So, there’s not really any social interaction beyond our lectures,” Dadvand said. “I just really want to see my teachers and have them see me before I graduate.”

Although Smiler does not plan to return, she still believes that it would be “nice” to meet teachers and form personal connections with them. 

“It’ll be nice to meet the teachers in person because, for junior year, you’re supposed to build connections with your teachers…and have them write you the recommendation letter––most of us haven’t even met half our teachers,” Smiler said.

According to the survey, 70% of students want to return in August for the next school year. Five out of 10 of the interviewed students said that they felt the plan to return felt rushed and they would prefer to return to school the following year. 

“I think the whole thing is being rushed. I don’t understand the point of coming back before August when we don’t have that much school left. It’s just gonna throw us all for a loop that we’re not ready for, from sleep schedules being all whacked…and also learning how to be a person again and get ready and walk all over the school, [it’s] crazy after a year of just sitting inside,” Maurer said. “I think that we can need this summer to reintegrate ourselves into everyday society because things will loosen up a little bit and we can see people. I just think it feels like it’s a rushed thing that most people that I’ve talked to, don’t want to happen.”

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