Back Is Better

Students who attended online school are returning to seated school


Eli Dean, News & Sports Editor

School is back in session and students are ready for the second semester of what has become a tedious school year. When the school district went fully virtual in March 2020 and opened up five months later, many students chose to go virtual for the new school year.

Now, with the COVID-19 vaccine beginning to roll-out in Missouri and studies are showing the lesser risks to children in schools, many students who went virtual are back for the second semester.

Junior Reagan Neal’s parents both work in the medical field, so she avoided the potential risk of getting COVID-19 and spreading it to her immediate family.

“I have a few family members who are at a higher risk than most people,” Neal said. “My parents thought it’d be best that we do school online for at least the first semester and see if anything gets better.”

Unfortunately, cases spread more over time as the year went on, but the school’s actions and administrative goals to prevent the spread led Neal back.

“While [COVID-19 case numbers] didn’t necessarily change, my family could tell the school had been taking good safety precautions and ensuring that COVID-19 was being properly managed,” Neal said. “Because of that, my parents decided we could go back to school in person.”

The transition back for Neal has been a good one, and she said she appreciates the communication she’s had with her teachers.

“It has been a pretty easy transition coming back,” Neal said. “My teachers have communicated with me well and are very understanding.”

Even though online school allowed for flexibility at home, she prefers being at school.

“I do not prefer online over being at the high school,” Neal said. “Having to stare at a computer all day was often challenging.”

However, for some, the change back to school hasn’t been easy, which is something sophomore Lindsey Johns can attest to. She said the speed at which school goes is difficult for her to adjust to after being on her own schedule for the first semester.

“It’s definitely a completely different experience,” Johns said. “It’s like going from 0-100, which is very over-stimulating.”

The speed of high school can understandably be demanding, but for those who were online as freshmen, adjusting to high school can be even more stressful. Freshman Caleb Craig saw this first-hand.

“I was actually failing some classes for most of the semester,” Craig said. “It was really difficult to keep up with.”

With the added effect of having a younger brother in elementary school, Craig found it difficult to balance everything at home.

“We had to share a Chromebook when we were online, so we didn’t have a lot of time to do everything,” Craig said. “Since my parents were at work, I had to make my brother lunch and help him with his own school work, which sometimes took a lot of time.”

Craig’s family situation is similar to Neal’s family in that both of his parents work, but he also sees his at-risk grandfather from time to time, which is the main reason why he went online.

“My parents were one of the first groups of medical professionals to get the vaccine, so the risk went way down,” Craig said. “That’s one of the big reasons why I stopped being online.”

Everyone has their own reasons for coming back or going online, but for seniors, the choice gets much harder. Senior Emma Sharp found online school as a good alternative to being at school during this strange school year, but as time went on, she felt as though she needed to come back for her last semester in school.

“I didn’t want to come back to school at first, but I took a look at what it was like the first semester and that was not something I wanted to do over again,” Sharp said. “I wouldn’t say online school is terrible but it definitely is not for everybody.”

Some of the hardest parts of being a senior in these times, Sharp says, is the lack of options for things like visiting colleges and preparing for the future.

“Being a senior this year means I’m not allowed to visit a lot of the colleges I have an interest in,” Sharp said. “There are still virtual meetings, but it’s of course not the same as an in-person meeting.”

Sharp said she wishes to carry over some of the traits she’s learned over the past year into her adulthood in hopes of becoming a better person. Johns hopes the same.

“I hope to learn how to cope with change better and how to handle the fast-paced and loud nature of in-person school again,” Johns said.

Neal discovered the importance of teachers in the classroom and gives more respect now to her teachers.

“I realized how hard it was to motivate myself rather than having a teacher close by to help and encourage me.” Neal said.