Going Back to School During COVID: 5 Students Share Their First Day | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

August 20, 2020

The first day of my senior year. The day I had been looking forward to for the last four years. Usually, it is a day of anticipation, excitement and enthusiasm because of the many traditions, experiences and friendships that come with being a senior. But due to the pandemic, the last first day was nothing like anything I imagined at all. 

We usually have an assembly, similar to a pep rally, in which all the grades gather together in the gym. Our big senior tradition at this assembly is getting our senior sweaters. The seniors anxiously sit in the bleachers, clutching their sweaters, waiting for the principal to say “seniors present yourselves.” The whole class erupts into hugging, cheering, and overall joy knowing that they have finally earned their spot as the next leaders of the school. They proudly represent the tan brown sweaters against the dark brown sweaters worn by the underclassmen. This bond of sisterhood and connection you feel with the other girls in your class is indescribable, and it is a moment you cherish. As underclassmen, you watch the next year’s seniors have their special moment year after year until finally, it’s your turn. And this year, it was finally our turn. 

I was very excited to be going back to school, but also a little nervous. I was eager to be back in the place I called my second home, to be able to see my friends and teachers, and to walk the familiar halls that I had missed so much these past few months. I was looking forward to going back to a somewhat normal school day with a regular schedule again. But I was also a little hesitant to be going back, because I didn’t really know how school was going to work during this crazy time. However, I quickly learned that the faculty and staff put many procedures in place and were doing everything they could to keep us safe. 

When walking into the school, we were greeted by both familiar and new faculty members at new temperature check stations staggered at the entrances. Walking back on campus felt just as it always had, with the addition of every student and faculty member required to wear a mask with our usual uniform. It possessed the same welcoming atmosphere of love and joy and excitement. But instead of gathering as an entire school for assembly, all five grades went to homeroom and walked into a class full of desks separated as far as they could from one another. Usually our classrooms are set up in “pods” — desks of three or four, in a circle facing each other — in order to better engage with classmates. It was definitely a strange look to our usually close-knit desks. 

We watched our usual assembly from our classrooms thanks to a livestream that allowed us to still engage with what our administration needed to tell us in real time. We heard many speeches and reminders about the school year, but one important theme was that as long as we all do our part to keep each other safe, we will all be okay. I pray that everyone remains healthy, but with all the uncertainty it’s hard to tell. The administration reminded us we were all in this together and, although this is a new challenge, we were going to come out of it stronger.

 Another safety precaution implemented were one-way hallways. Walking through the school using specific pathways is something everyone is trying to get used to, but we are slowly getting the hang of it. When it came time to present ourselves with our sweaters, we did it a little different than usual. We were called from our homerooms to the parking lot in which we all spread out 6 feet apart. Although we were not able to hug each other like usual, we were still able to stand with our classmates and present ourselves in front of the rest of the school watching over the live stream. We were very lucky to know that although getting our sweaters looked a little different, our administration made sure we were still able to have that special moment we had been waiting for. After receiving our sweaters, we were able to do our senior class cheer for the first time, another very special tradition. Overall, it was a really great first day full of new experiences and challenges that we were prepared to face. 

Even though this first day back did not look at all what I had been dreaming of, it was still a special and unique and a memory that I will cherish forever. I don’t know what the future with look like for the rest of the school year, especially for memorable events like prom and graduation. But by that point in time, I just hope we are able to attend them in person without fear of the pandemic.


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