Students express excitement about returning to school, yet are concerned about COVID-19 safety

Side+by+side+comparison+of+cohorts+vs.+full+time+in-person+learning.

Fiona Swan

Side by side comparison of cohorts vs. full time in-person learning.

Recently COVID-19 cases have begun to decline in Marin County which allows for schools to open up full time. After spring break, for the first time in over a year, students in the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) will have the option of returning to school Monday through Friday or staying home and learning on Zoom full-time. As students make their choice some worry about their safety, while others are eager to get back to somewhat “normal” school. 

After the district and the Tamalpais Federation of Teachers (TFT) negotiated they came to the decision that it was safe enough for students to return fully in person. Before putting this plan into action there were many steps to make it possible. 

The largest component allowing all students on campus was the decrease in social distance.The Centers for Disease Control and California Department of Public Health changed the recommended required distance between individuals on campus from six feet to three. 

For there to be a decrease in social distance, masks must still be mandatory. There will be the three feet rule as long as schools are fully in person in order to make room for everyone. 

The county moving into the orange tier was also an important factor in allowing all students to come back on campus, along with most teachers being vaccinated. 

Liz Seabury, the principal of High School 1327 (HS 1327), predicts that because our school is smaller than other TUHSD schools, people will feel relatively safe.

 “I think the other schools are going to run into people probably questioning some of the safety but I don’t see it affecting us very much at all,” Seabury said.

The other schools in TUHSD had 15 students in most of their classrooms when there were three cohorts because their class sizes are much bigger. 

However, some students still worry about the spread of COVID-19. Many teenagers are not vaccinated yet, so they are at a higher risk of being exposed to the virus, especially with larger class sizes. Although, students are comfortable coming back to school due to more information about COVID-19 and how to be at school safely.

“[I’m] not fully [feeling safe returning], but I think partially the school has done a pretty good job with protocols and stuff and if the state is saying that we can go back, it’s kind of a little bit more reassuring to me,” said HS 1327 sophomore Gabi Yacoub.

Alternatively, other students are thrilled to be back on campus with all their classmates. For many teenagers it’s important to attend school in-person to be able to get the support they need from their teachers and to have the social aspect of school. 

“I’m excited because I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve been back and I’m just overall so much happier being back, and I feel like one day just isn’t enough,” said HS 1327 junior Lyla Johnston.

Some students have reasons other than safety to be nervous going back to school. After a long period of isolation from large groups, many students may feel that their social skills are out of practice. 

“I think I am excited but social interaction with people I haven’t seen in a year kind of sounds scary, but for the most part I am excited because I haven’t seen a lot of my friends,” said HS 1327 junior Mia Slippy. 

After a long year of anticipation and planning, it is finally considered safe enough for all HS 1327 students to be in school together. Though there are still concerns about safety, many students are going back with an optimistic attitude and hope this will be the start of post-COVID-19 life.

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