The beginning of the school year is always stressful for students, but this time around, there are challenges we could have never imagined. In Rowan-Salisbury Schools, where I’m currently a sophomore, the fear of COVID-19 has not stopped the opening of schools or students attending, but the student body is still wildly aware of the situation.
We have heard from the government, the CDC, teachers, and staff, but the voices of students have largely remained unheard. I reached out to my friends and peers, held a Zoom meeting, and dug into the minds of people like me — students, who despite a global pandemic, are going back to school this year.
On Aug. 11, I organized a Zoom call with some of my closest friends: Luke and Sarah Waller, who are in ninth and 10th grade at West Rowan High School, and Koen and Emery Franz, who are in eighth and 10th grade and West Rowan Middle and High School. We talked about our fears and concerns about the new year and our predictions of what would happen.
A lot of the concerns and fears we shared come from questions that haven’t been properly answered and are leaving a lot of students nervous and scared for the new school year. One of the biggest concerns that I’ve heard from my friends has been: How are we going to maintain communication with our teachers during virtual days?
Emery Franz, eighth grader at West Rowan Middle School, said “I struggled finding time to contact my teachers online,” while the group talked about the differences from spring semester to fall semester.
One of the more serious questions asked was: What if someone gets sick? What happens to the rest of the students? Luckily enough, after starting this school year, the student body has gotten an answer.
If a student becomes infected with COVID-19, they will have to be quarantined and the students who had been seated around them will have to be tested and quarantined as well. Teachers have seating charts and we all sit in the same chair at the same desk every day. In between each class, teachers sanitize and wipe down desks and chairs, as well as any communal supplies.
One of the predictions from Koen Franz was that school wouldn’t remain open for more than a few weeks. The group agreed and we began to talk about our hopes for the virtual curriculum if this does happen.
A couple of hopes from Luke and Sarah Waller, and myself, were that the material learned in class would be easily transferred online for access at home. We were all collectively worried that the topics we covered in class and the topics we were assigned online wouldn’t match up or make sense. Fortunately for us, so far the online and in-person days have run fairly smoothly. There have not been many complaints about the work or the material itself.
During student Zoom calls with Superintendent Lynn Moody, several other students from all over the county, in various grades and from various backgrounds, have been asking her the hard-hitting questions and continually hoping to see results. During a call in late August, we recounted the ups and downs of the first week of school.
So far, there have been few cases of COVID-19 in the Rowan-Salisbury School System, so schools are doing well. The general consensus is that individuals are following the rules, social distancing, and wearing their masks. The student body is taking responsibility for protecting themselves and their peers. We will see how the rest of the year pans out.