Thoughts Upon The Return From Coronacation

Kaia Wirth, Editor-in-chief

It’s been a long and arduous journey from the start to end of quarantine, and while many are aching for a chance to finally escape their families and reclaim the familiar normalcy of school, there are still many unanswered questions and concerns upon the Kennebunk student body’s return. In the hopes that some have an idea of what this year might look like, I took the liberty of interviewing a few fellow students in regards to the future of distance/hybrid education. 

How sufficient will the transition be from all-online to hybrid learning?

The sudden announcement of all-online learning in March was jarring for all the students I spoke to. Now, being offered the option of either all-online or hybrid learning, views on the transition varied. Libby Shea, an incoming senior, believes that the transition would benefit not only herself as a learner, but the staff as well. “[She] struggled with motivation once the grading system went from [numerical] scores to the pass/incomplete model. Once school is changed to the hybrid model, [She] believe[s] students will take their education more seriously and be more willing to participate in video calls and classwork.” Conversely, Amede Olise, an incoming sophomore, feels that due to the freedom and leeway that was given in March “…students won’t be motivated as much or be independent and responsible [when it comes to submitting and completing assignments on time].” 

What are your biggest concerns about returning to school in person?

Every answer I received in regards to returning to school face-to-face pertained to catching the virus from their peers. “One of my biggest fears is catching Covid from students and staff who haven’t been as careful, and spreading it to my grandmother who just had brain surgery [or my] parents who are also in a high risk group,” says Katie Braddick, an incoming sophomore. This evokes a substantial point; a wide majority of the student body is/knows someone who is a member of a high risk group. The spread of the virus to these people through contact with staff or peers is definitely a valid concern, and something to bear in mind as we progress through the school year. 

What are you expecting from this school year/do you think we’ll have to revert to all online? And if so, why?

Due to the already rising cases after opening schools in other states across the country, it’s not unreasonable to believe that we would be forced to revert to all-online at some point this year. Amede has a steady grasp on reality as she speaks about the unrealistic standard that “every single student is going to do their part and be [six feet] away from each other and not hang out … I don’t think the school will take that chance.” It’s difficult to predict, but only time will tell whether school will close again this year. 

What are some qualities you feel would benefit hybrid learning?

The collective call for more effective and frequent communications between teachers and students was resounding. “Because this type of education is so new to everyone, I strongly believe that having a support system is essential to the health of students. It also would help students be successful if there were consistent communication and feedback between students and teachers,” says Libby Shea.  Maya Olin, an incoming sophomore, looks forward to partaking in hybrid learning for the benefit of “having some face to face contact with teachers and peers, [which makes] it easier for many students to focus and actually learn the material, unlike online learning.”

How compliant do you feel students will be with the newly instituted regulations? Do you think there will be any tribulations in earning cooperation?

Resistance to the instituted safety regulations is to be expected. However, it’s imperative to remember to be mindful of others and their unique medical situations and histories. “My hope is that students will follow guidelines and be cautious, but it’s hard to get everyone to do it perfectly,” says Katie Braddick.  “I can definitely see people pulling down masks and hugging friends in the hallways. I don’t see people completely refusing regulations, but when teachers aren’t looking, who knows.”  Maya Olin states that “at the end of the day everyone will make their own decisions and that will determine if we will stay in school or go back to online.”

In these times of great uncertainty, it’s critical that our collective efforts as a student body reflect compassion and consideration for the health and safety of others. In the time since we’ve been back, it would appear that the regulations are being abided by, and students are indeed taking the state of our world seriously. My hope is that this cooperation will remain as it is, and continue to keep those around us safe.