From The Mouth Of Babes: How Students Feel About Returning To School During A Pandemic

With the end of summer looming over their heads, Michigan students have a lot of thoughts on the upcoming school year. The most overlooked issue that’s facing these scholars? No one is asking them how they feel.

Michigan elected officials released the MI Safe Schools: Michigan’s 2020-2021 Return to School Roadmap, a document outlining safety protocols and mandates. Many adults have expressed their concerns, but little consideration has been given to students who are also anxious over the lack of protection against the virus provided to them.

One Detroit Public Schools Community District student isn’t confident the district will be able to ease his fears.

“There are too many safety protocols and steps that they would have to take to get the school up and running, said Aiden Smith, an incoming freshman at Marygrove High School. Smith went into specifics about sanitation and the spacing issues during students’ lunch period.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a press release detailing the critical importance of education and required regulation pending the reopening of schools. The document outlined key factors that help to ensure student safety. The CDC requested that all administrators encourage everyone in the school and the community to practice preventive behaviors, maintain healthy environments, develop a plan in the event of a positive case and more.

Michigan is now five months into the COVID-19 pandemic that first hit citizens in March. Similar to the adults around them, students felt a mix of emotions in the early months of quarantine.

Makaela Williams, a 14-year-old rising high school student, was initially glad to leave her classroom behind.

“When school ended last year, I felt really happy because it was presented to me and my class as a break. What was only supposed to be three weeks soon turned into a permanent leave,” said Williams.

News of the school year ending indefinitely quickly changed her mind.

“It became clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to finish learning what I’ve worked so hard for, pertaining to any and all subjects,” she said.

The transition from in-person lessons to virtual learning took some getting used to.

“It was harder to learn. There wasn’t a lot of hands-on interaction, so to say,” Smith recalled. “I feel like everyone was a bit off in the classroom. It took people a couple of days to understand work as opposed to the first hour.”

Many students, shocked by the abrupt end of classes during the 2019-2020 calendar year, are looking to neighboring adults and guardians for direction. Smith, a Dean’s list student and perfect attendance awardee, said he learns best when taught by calm, prepared teachers.

“It’ll be too large of a task to make the school safe for students. They’ll be in a panic,” he prophesied. “I feel like it’ll be more stable if they would just give us computers and tablets to use from home as opposed to doing all of these safety risks.” In April, around 51,000 DPSCD students were set to get computer tablets after the district received a $23 million donation.

Many are of the belief that our nation’s anxiety levels are at an all-time high. Various studies have shown the direct effects parental behaviors and social environments have on young and old generations.

Political officials have also been affected by the anxious climate of the collective. Some critics of the government have cited harmful presidential rhetoric as the cause for alleged rushed decisions. The pandemic did not sway Smith, 13, to ignore his less-fortunate classmates.

“I know there are people that are dependent on school lunches and school supplies; things should be done to make sure they are accounted for while everyone helps to prevent the spread of germs,” he said.

Students have credited virtual learning to an increase in personal responsibility and higher knowledge. Shared sentiments of excitement for academic achievement and social interactions with friends are being expressed.








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