Defne Onal staff writer
Fifth-grader Glory Vangari is sitting in her math class. She’s got her notebook and pencil set out. She doesn’t have the urge to check her smartphone, as her teacher is watching her. Vangari is too busy taking notes explaining different types of line plots. She is back in school.
“She was so excited for her first day back that she got up two hours early,” said her sister, junior Praize Vangari.
She hopped to school, part of a surge of elementary school students who met their teachers and classmates in person for the first time.
“I think that my classmates are really happy that school is in person now, and everyone is pretty positive,” Vangari said.
A year into the coronavirus outbreak, students are used to virtual classrooms. Praize said that her “family expressed worry about how students handle in-person instruction” this late into the pandemic.
In response to the worry some families have shown because of the transition to online learning, fifth-grade teacher Michelle Stradford said, “The students are doing an incredible job! They are following the protocols with ease, have positive attitudes about being back in our physical classrooms, and they are keeping up with their school work.”
The shift handled between some students staying virtual, and some in-person depends on the class.
“For my class, five students needed to remain virtual, and 21 chose to come back. The five students in my class that remained virtual were moved into our virtual teacher’s class, and I received six of his students that wanted to return physically. There was a lot of movement to accommodate the wants of each family,” Stradford said.
Horace Mann third grader Nora Kozina also returned to in-person learning.
“Online, you get to be in your pajamas and rest. [You don’t have to] really listen. Real-life school is actually a little bit better because you get to know everything better. On Zoom, it glitches out, and everything,” Kozina said.
Kozina prefers a full day of school rather than the two hours students attend.
“We’re hoping that they’re going to have more hours. We only go two hours right now. We can’t go outside on the playground and run around,” Kozina said.
Vangari also shares the hope that there might be a full day of school.
“Well, it would be nice if we went to school a full day, also I think it would be nice if we got to go to multiple rooms for different classes. I do realize that may be a problem,” Vangari said. “All the kids in class could be in the same room instead of having an AM group and a PM group. But, that could also be a problem.”
According to Stradford, she has also heard that “some students wish they got to stay for a longer amount of time each day.” However, she has not personally heard from any parents.
“I think it is easy to see the happiness and excitement of the students that are back on campus,” Stratford said. “The wellbeing of our students is always at the top of the list, and they have waited a very long time to return.”