All students have returned to the AES campus for the first time since March 2020. High school and middle school students started on August 10th, and elementary students joined the following day. Covid protocols are still in place, but now they allow all students on campus with complete security and responsible health.
Many students are relieved to go back on campus because they are able to concentrate more in person, meet new (and old) friends, and participate in fun school activities like Fort Frenzy, Fall Fiesta, and Holi. Some of the benefits of coming to school are internet problems, being more physically active, and fewer distractions during class. However, it’s not all perfect - we still cannot use the cafeteria or lockers, and we have to wear masks almost all the time due to COVID-19.
New COVID Testing Protocols
For unvaccinated students, they’ll need to do a self COVID test every Monday morning, and then when they come to school, they will get a card that confirms their negative COVID results. For vaccinated students, they will get a yellow sticker showing that they are vaccinated. Also every lunchtime we should change our masks.
This year is different from any year before, we are all here on campus attending full-time, but there are still some safety protocols to follow that we didn’t usually have. Unlike the 2020-2021 school year, we are back on campus with everyone five days a week. AES students have found many pros and cons to returning to a regular schedule. When learning online, at one point or another, we all had internet complications that made it challenging to participate in class, and now when there is an issue with our technology we can go to the tech office to get help.
Many Difference from Last Year
One of the most significant differences from last year is that we can socialize with our peers. It was pretty hard to interact with other people on Zoom, so we all felt a little disconnected. “I don’t feel like my knowledge grew much last year because it was so hard to stay on track and follow instructions,” said 8th grader, Hannah.
For a year, students only met teachers on zoom, but now all students see teachers and other students face to face. Last year, they were divided into A and B groups; they only went to school for two days. But this year, all students returned to school for an entire week. Even though we are on campus, many things have changed, and we still have some restrictions on what we can do. For example, we can’t use lockers, we still need to keep our distance, and we have to keep our masks on.
Several students were interviewed about their experience in coming to this new learning style; a few of them stated.
Seventh-grade student SeoEun shared mixed feelings about returning to campus, “A little bit tiring because last year there was A Group and B Group, but we only got to school for two days.”
This was also a massive change from our usual norm that we had gotten used to. Some subjects were a little more adjustment to get back to than others. Hannah from 8th-grade said the biggest change was “PE, because when it was online, we just played games on Google Slides. When it was online, we did nothing, but now we're like running around.”
Woojin in grade 8 thought the worst part of being back in school is that ”we can’t use lockers.” But he is happy to be back overall because he is able to meet friends. Yeah, it's been a long time.”
Teachers are especially excited to have kids back on campus. “It is fantastic. Yeah, it feels great to be with students. The learning opportunities are better - student interactions with each other and with teachers, building relationships, particularly for new students. I can't imagine trying to come and be new and trying to make friends over Zoom.”
Counselor Ms. Anderson noted that there were many positives with being back on campus: “I think it's really valuable for people's mental health and well-being, to be around other people. And so to be able to socialize and be a part of a community in person.”
But being back on campus has not solved every issue. She added, “I would say one negative part is just that you know there's still some fear and anxiety around getting sick for some people, and, and that can be scary.”
Overall, during the past 18 months, we have gone through crazy experiences; however, we have to try our best by keeping ourselves safe to keep learning on campus and avoiding online-learning.