The past two school years have been incredibly difficult due to COVID-19; however, with the vaccines coming out and new CDC guidelines, some positive change may be in sight for RHS students. In fact, Phil Murphy, the Governor of New Jersey, stated that school this fall would be fully in-person. Murphy’s statement raises many questions regarding safety and adjustments along with gratitude for there to finally be light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s what RHS math teacher Lauren Mele has to say when asked about her thoughts. “It is going to be a matter of trying to figure out how we can all have lunch together. Can we take our masks off and be next to each other in the cafeteria? In the campus center?” Mele asserts, bringing up a solid point.
The simple experiences such as visiting the library or sitting with friends at lunch contribute to the overall school experience which students have been longing for since the shutdown last March. Socialization is incredibly important for students as it has emotional benefits as well as educational benefits, but, social distancing is just as–if not–more important. Figuring out what next year at RHS looks like is a matter of figuring out what steps we are ready to take together as a community. Then again, Murphy stated that despite the fact that COVID-19 is still around, “we are now facing a very different reality.”
As a community, our new reality has finally allowed us to gain back the socialization we sacrificed for social distancing. Of course, this major difference is going to be unnerving as Ms. Mele remarks “Being all together is going to be exhausting as we’re going to be there [at school] all day without any breaks.” The virtual school option has allowed many students to learn comfortably in their homes, and the change of constantly waking up early for school can create stress for students. Though students may feel burdened in the beginning, Mele also added that “We are all creatures of habit. I think we are all going to fall back into what we are more comfortable with. Even though we have been doing this for a year and a half, I do think that in general, we are more comfortable with our normal school day.” Being with peers in a classroom and sitting together will help students feel more comfortable in the in-person environment, as many students took the isolation of virtual classes hard.
Safety is the number one priority, and RHS students and staff members must acknowledge that when thinking about school next year. Overall, the next school year will be a product of how RHS staff members and students work together, as ultimately a positive experience can only be made when certain key components are met.
Graphic: Chloe Cho