In March, 2020 when COVID-19 shut down schools all around the world, one of the major questions was how are we going to continue learning while stopping the spread of the virus? For the remainder of that school year, we went “online.” In reality most students had what felt like a five month long summer vacation. After a year and a half of being online, all Portland Public Schools are back on campus for the 2021-2022 school year.
The 2020-2021 school year being fully online brought many changes. Some of these changes included four classes a semester and Wednesdays being asynchronous, meaning no mandatory class meetings. These changes made the switch back to in-building difficult for some people. Some students felt as though online school was much better because they feel safer at home, and they prefer their own personal environment to work in. Fina Sabatini, a junior at Franklin High School, says, “I love my room, and I love working in my room.” She added, “I hate classrooms, it was just nicer to be in a good environment to work in.” There is also the factor of overpopulation at Franklin: “I have the constant fear I’m going to catch COVID-19 in the hallways,” says Sabatini.
While some students believe online school is better, a majority of students pulled from social media prefer in-person school. The lack of social interaction caused by online school has been an issue for many students. Jordy Pardo, another Franklin junior, says, “It was very lonely, I like seeing my friends and just seeing people.” A lot of students lacked motivation because every day felt the same. Wake up, stay in bed, log onto class, camera off, mic off. How do you learn from that? The short answer is you can’t. With in-person school you can build connections with your teachers and classmates, something that was extremely difficult to do last school year. School days in general can be pretty draining, but spending an entire day in a small room staring at a computer screen is not an ideal way to learn.
Of course, there is the possibility of school shutting down again. With roughly 2,000 students and the breakthrough COVID-19 cases, only time will tell how long we will stay in the Franklin building. Some students hope for the best in which we can stay all year, while others wouldn’t be upset if we went back online. It comes to three main factors: if students and staff are wearing masks, if students and staff are getting vaccinated, and if the school is enforcing strict protocols. The future of the school year is unknown, but for right now, it’s good to be back.