What Raiders face during the return to school


Image by Reilly Calvert

Students practice a routine in Molly Harwell’s Dance 3/4 class. All students and staff are required to wear masks while indoors per COVID-19 guidelines.

Reilly Calvert, Co-Editor

Now that Reagan students and staff have returned to in-person learning, they are able to see each other face-to-face, albeit from the eyes up. For many, the hope is that eventually things will return to “normal,” but a lot of adjusting still needs to be done. 

Students have pointed out several aspects of school that feel unusual now that they are all back in the building each day, including waking up early, receiving physical worksheets and not having to unmute when they want to speak. Some students also feel like their high school social skills are rusty.

“What I did find difficult is asking people if I can sit with them at lunch, because during virtual learning, I did not have to ask anyone due to being in my own house,” said junior Nasi Bongweni. “I’ve really learned to talk to my teachers and ask them for anything. I’ve learned that they can relate to me more than I thought because they were students like me.” 

Teachers are getting back into the groove of school life as well. Their students have noticed that several of their instructors seem grateful to be teaching full classes in the building again. 

“I am excited to be able to see students again,” said Michaela Colon, an AP Language and Composition teacher. “Last year I felt that everything I don’t like about teaching, like keeping up with lesson plans and the paperwork, was amplified, and everything I love about teaching, which is seeing you guys, getting to know students, and just having relationships, was stolen. I’m really thankful to be able to just feel like I’m teaching again, because I can see people and I can work with people.”

Now that students have returned and restrictions are less tight, opportunities are returning for people to participate in clubs, sports events and other activities with more freedom. 

“Basketball has been similar to last year, but I feel like it’s been more laid back with mask wearing, checking in, etc,” said sophomore Cooper Diaz, a Reagan basketball player.  “Now that lots of people are vaccinated, we aren’t as concerned with social distancing and always wearing the mask properly. I think this year is going well so far and I’m excited for the season to start.”

Seniors are finally getting back to the relative normalcy that they only experienced during their freshman year. Their sophomore year was cut short due to the pandemic, and their entire junior year took place in the midst of virtual learning.

“I like being back. I’m excited to get to go to games and stuff now,” said senior Madison Neal. “It’s different because we haven’t had a regular year since my freshman year, so it’s just really weird being back, but I like it.” 

Not every student feels like school life is noticeably different or difficult to adjust to. Aside from COVID-19 regulations and the discussion about them, the return to school may feel like the return to any other year.

“Other than getting up early, it just feels like regular school,” said sophomore Eva Jarvis. “I feel like it feels pretty normal, people just talk about corona sometimes. It hasn’t been that bad— we’re going to be okay.” 

During this school year, there are several more challenges that Raiders have encountered. For example, masks are required to be worn in the building at all times, except for when actively eating during lunch. 

“Teaching with masks is rather difficult, especially in a foreign language class,” said Spanish I teacher Johnny Rodriguez.

The effects of having to quarantine this year are another thing to consider. Quarantining could occur if a student is diagnosed with COVID-19, if they were in close contact with someone diagnosed, have a family member who was exposed, or if they are or care for someone vulnerable. Exposure-based quarantine is classified as the person being unmasked and closer than six feet to a diagnosed individual for more than 15 minutes.

The recommended quarantine time is 10-14 days, which could mean a lot of time missed. Many teachers are keeping their Canvas pages regularly updated in order to provide students with lessons and content if they are not able to attend class.

The use of Canvas itself is another differing variable. After almost a year of instruction and assessments taking place on the platform, reverting back to the usual pen-and-paper style of doing assignments is a change. Some teachers are still integrating Canvas into their teaching, while others are less interested in using it. 

“I love Canvas, but I am allowing my students to turn in work in Canvas or on paper. Most of them, 99 percent, are doing it on paper since they are tired of looking at a computer screen,” said Rodriguez.

Being back to school seems like a combination of excitement, nerves and that classic beginning of the year feeling. Although matters may not seem drastically different, the way the pandemic has affected Raider lifestyles and continues to affect them does not go unnoticed.

“Just being able to see each other is really nice,” Colon said. “I’m just hoping that we can continue like this forever.”