Students return to campus after a full year of virtual school

Virtual education was not an option for Judson ISD this year.

Students+transition+to+their+third+period+in+the+H+and+E+wing+during+the+first+week+of+school.+The+campus+welcomed+nearly+2%2C700+students+last+week.

Photo By: Riley Grogan

Students transition to their third period in the H and E wing during the first week of school. The campus welcomed nearly 2,700 students last week.

For most, school hasn’t felt “normal” since the spring of 2020. After the COVID outbreak, few students (in relation to the entire school) returned to campus for the 2020-2021 year. 

Principal Hernandez has emphasized – it’s been over 500 days since all students were on campus for a “regular” school year or at least something close to it.

“It feels pretty refreshing seeing people after so long because I haven’t seen everyone. But at the same time, it’s very strange because none of us ever really expected any of this to happen in the first place,” senior Daniela Hernandez said. 

Almost every student lost a sizable amount of their high school experience due to COVID-19. While a lot of people won’t admit to it, there’s much more to high school than just education alone: the opportunity to make life-long connections, the potential to increase social skills, and creating memories that are never forgotten. 

Due to the fact that students may be a bit disorientated this school year, it’s understandable for everyone to have their concerns. Students are lost, confused, scared, and nervous – but they may not show it or admit it. Surely, everyone has mixed emotions about diving headfirst back into normalcy.

“I definitely missed school and seeing my friends, but there’s also an element of fear when it comes to being back on campus. It’s my senior year, so I didn’t hesitate to return. However, sometimes I wonder if it’s too soon to try going back to normal. The virus is still very much a threat, but we’re all trying to make do,” senior Janaza Pelzer said.  

Considering the circumstances, the campus implemented procedures that are new to some who weren’t on campus last year: directional arrows in the hallways, no water fountains, hand sanitizer galore, and a sanitizer for hard surfaces.

One of the big issues that cannot be ignored is over 2,700 bodies walking at the same time, shoulder to shoulder.

“I feel like it’s too crowded in the hallways, and walking only one direction doesn’t help. I have to do an entire loop and navigate through huge crowds just to get to my class,” senior Darian Fils said.

Whether or not masks are required this school year has been a topic of conversation since the first day of school, as districts and politicians go back and forth on what’s best for schools. As of Monday, August 23, masks are required for students and teachers while on campus; but this could change again at any moment based on what politicians decide.

“Wearing a mask is not that big of a deal for me, and it shouldn’t be a problem for other students either. I feel like everyone should just be grateful to be back in the real world and finally out of lockdown,” senior Janaza Pelzer said. “Just wear a mask – it’s a form of respect at this point.”

Being back at school with more than 2,000 other students is almost… abnormal, after nearly a year and a half away. With new procedures, a confusing verdict on masks, and justified fears among the community, this year will absolutely be different from the rest. However, it should also be a lot better than the last.

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