Students have mixed opinions on return to in-person classes after winter break


Malcolm Taylor

Students returned in-person on Jan. 10 after a week of Covid-19 testing delayed in-person learning by one week. Upon returning, students expressed mixed feelings about Covid-19 safety precautions.

Lucia Kouri, Editor-In-Chief

After a delayed start to in-person school after winter break, nearly all students and faculty returned to campus on Monday, Jan. 10, with the promise of redoubled safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the omicron variant. 

In the first week of class, students have expressed mixed opinions about the return to school. While many students feel that the new mandatory testing, masking and distance protocols are sufficient to make them feel safe, others feel concerned for their health throughout the school day. The U-High Midway spoke with students Jan. 10-12, the first three days of classes since returning from winter break.

Junior Kriti Sarav is supportive of the return back to in-person school, and said the protocols make her feel comfortable.

“I think Lab is doing a really good job with the SHIELD testing, because it’s quick, it’s fast and it isn’t as painful obviously. So I’m pretty happy with what I was doing in terms of getting us tested, and the contact tracing seems to be working so far,” Kriti said. “In general, obviously we have to be like way more cautious in school now. Like I know before, I might have been a little like, you know, like eating lunch closer to people, but at least today I was trying to, you know, like to distance myself a little more.”

Kriti said she also noticed this distancing enforced outside of the cafeteria in classrooms too, something that other students, such as sophomore Santana Romero, have noticed as well. 

“For English, for example, we don’t do as much group work now. We do more individual stuff, so that we’re not as close and for a lot of my classrooms, they rearrange the seats and stuff so that we’re also more separated. So I think all of that is helpful.”

Outside of the classrooms, though, some students fear that distancing is not being enforced. Jana Reiser is a senior who has noticed just this trend. 

“I feel comfortable coming back to school because I don’t have any family that’s compromised in any way and I am confident in the booster,” Jana said. “However, based on the precautions the school is taking, there’s honestly no difference because with just the amount of people that there are in the high school, in most cases, it’s basically impossible to uphold the six-feet limit, and people just aren’t doing it, and that’s not really their fault.” 

Katharine Christensen, a ninth grader, is particularly concerned about the lack of distancing because of the improper mask wearing she has observed. 

“But I’m also worried because I know that, like, a lot of the students don’t follow the, like, mask mandates,” Katharine said. “I’m kind of worried about that. Because the new variant is like, really contagious, and it can spread really quickly.”

Sophomore Mary Bridget Molony has begun to wear KN95 masks out of similar worry, following a recommendation from administration that everyone wear a tight-fitting mask such as a KN95 or N95.

“I think the measures are pretty good. Especially because, like, it’s showing that vaccinated people have like less severe illness from omicron,” Mary Bridget said. “But I think that some people, like, are still in the old habits and, like, not wearing their masks as much as they should.” 

Junior Charlie Benton expressed that mask wearing can be a particularly relevant issue with swimmers such as himself, or in activities where the ability to wear a mask is strained.

Senior Aaron Kim expressed a similar observation that seems to ring true with many school sports athletes, and that could hold implications for in-person school and the sports season

“I don’t know how I feel about sports, because I definitely feel like during practices it gets difficult to breathe, and some people will take down their masks,” Aaron said. “And in those cases, it’s probably less safe. But I think after seeing the first few days of testing, we’ll see how safe it is or isn’t.”

With so much uncertainty, junior Maile Nacu, who has a grandparent living at home with her, has been feeling less safe at school and taking extra precautions in school and at home. Still, she questions whether students who are experiencing concern for their health should be accommodated.

“I think the school is making the necessary precautions, but I don’t know, I feel like if some students aren’t comfortable I feel like they should maybe have a chance to not go into school,” Maile said. “But I know that’s, like, kind of a stretch after we’ve gone through all these lengths to stay in person.”

In the coming weeks, as testing continues and students spend more and more time on school grounds, most members of the Lab community will be closely monitoring emerging cases and gauging the success of school protocols. Until then, students can only wait — and wear their masks. 

Midway team members Meena Lee, Kia Dutta and Audrey Park also contributed audio reporting for this story.

Reporting for the U-High Midway, I’m Lucia Kouri.