It’s the beginning of a new school year, with new classmates and new schedules, and unfortunately a new school life in a pandemic. At RHS, students are faced with immense changes in their daily lives as they are faced with COVID-19 learning.
As expected, the hybrid school routine presents a challenge for many. “My parents are always badgering me because I’m home,” said one student, “It’s taking a huge toll on my mental health.” The hybrid schedule has shaped the daily lives of all Ridgewood High School students.
One student commented: “My daily routine is different because I have to look at a screen a lot more than usual and it’s kind of messing with me. It’s still strange being half virtual, and I’m so glad we don’t have all eight classes a day anymore. It was too overwhelming.”
Another student explained that hybrid learning was “less stressful than school-work wise but has a way more stressful schedule.” She also added, “daily routine doesn’t exist anymore, because there’s something different every day and literally nothing feels normal. I want to go back to virtual school. Hybrid is way too stressful and unfair. Those who are hybrid are given tests and quizzes at school while virtual students cheat.”
However, some students are also optimistic about this school year and have already adapted to this new normal. “I’ve been waking up earlier and feeling more awake because going to school feels like a new experience,” said one hybrid student. Another hybrid student commented, “Returning back to school is kind of a relief. My parents had started to really daunt me emotionally and I just needed a break from them at least once a week, which I got from going back to school… Just being able to leave my house lets me work on my mental health and be around people I love, and it just makes my day better.”
Some fully virtual students have also taken the change well. “So far, my transition has been pretty simple because it’s really similar to how school was during March through June,” said a virtual student. “It’s been kind of exhausting to stare at our screens all day, but I have to admit that the teachers are doing a really good job of connecting their online students to their in-person students. I still talk to as many people as I would if I was in school.”
Of course, despite this, there are many things that students missed about regular school life. One student said he missed having the freedom to roam around campus and wished he could work anywhere in the school during classes with remote teachers or study halls. “As long as you’re following social distance guidelines and you go into the Zoom, it should count as present,” he said. Another student said she felt like she was missing out on the full experience of some clubs. Many students missed seeing their friends and teachers at school. “One thing I really missed from last year was having lunch with my friends because usually that’s the only time I get to see them if we don’t have any classes together,” said one student. “Of course, we’ve been communicating a lot through social media and via text but it’s not the same as meeting in person.”
The length of the still-ongoing pandemic has made many realize that there’s no more going back to life before the coronavirus. This isn’t just a blip in the timeline; It’s rewiring school life as we know it, and it will definitely take some time for all of us to get used to it. But who knows? Perhaps in the future, we will look back and consider this completely normal.
Graphic: Chloe Cho