As the class of 2024 got out of bed on September 16, they woke up, not to run for the bus or wait for their parents to start the car, but instead, to groggily start up their laptops and open Zoom, ready to meet their new teachers and classmates — through a screen.
After about eight months of staying in quarantine with schools worldwide officially shutting down and going online in mid-March, much of the new school year remains online via Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime, and other social communication platforms.
Needing to adjust to a new building, teachers, and classes, students find starting high school itself a challenge without the COVID-19 pandemic. Many incoming first years including Izzy Mckay ’24, experienced the challenges of remote school to start off freshman year. Mckay reflects specifically on going remote yet again in November of 2020.
“[School closing] was definitely very disappointing, especially the first day that it happened…We were all trying so hard to social distance and do our part and it’s very disappointing when you know that it wasn’t your fault, but you’re still taking the consequences,” said Mckay.
At the beginning of the year, incoming first years attending the orientation were given a tour of the school and the opportunities offered. Despite the pandemic halting many plans and activities, starting high school was still an exciting prospect.
“I was looking forward to getting to high school and seeing what the next big chapter of my life was going to be like and exploring. You hear so much about high school, but it really is fun to finally be able to explore it on your own now.” said John Battaglino ’24.
Students also expressed disappointment with not being able to fully access all aspects of high school which WHS has to offer.
“COVID hasn’t affected my love for writing and reading and running. But it’s definitely affected how I do things and how I learn because in English it’s usually easier to get more out of the books when you’re all there and present and talking, but on Zoom it’s harder to talk and to get more out of the lessons,” said Audrey Fitzpatrick ’24.
While COVID-19 has derailed many plans, students have found new hobbies and learned a lot about themselves this year.
“It’s nice to have time to be able to go try something new, or maybe Facetime a friend that you normally wouldn’t be able to have time for. It is opening my eyes to other things I could try. I know that I’ve gotten really into baking and it’s nice to know that I’ll always have that now,” said Mckay.
Though remote learning doesn’t offer access to the same resources hybrid does, it offers time to pursue hobbies and a unique style of exploration.
Ivy Wang ’24, a participant of the Remote Learning School (RLS), has a different schedule than that of her hybrid learning peers. While most of her friends were eager to start heading to school in a few weeks, Wang knew that her experience would differ in terms of social aspects.
“I knew all my friends were getting their schedules and knowing their teachers, and I did not get a schedule until the second week of school,” said Wang.
RLS students had to face the first two weeks of school without a principal as well as carry temporary schedules before being given their full year course listings. Wang said her classes are a mix of all different level students. Even so, teachers still make sure that students are getting enough challenge in and outside of school. She adds on how even through a screen, she still finds teachers easy to talk and communicate with.
Students have found ways to adapt to the changes and challenges COVID-19 has posed. As the pandemic changed academic, athletic, and social endeavors, students still found ways to adapt to health and safety protocols — the “new normal”.
“The strange things that used to be very strange back in our normal days are quite normal now,” said Maria-Lila Shutts ’24.