The Brentwood School campus after reopening for in-person learning. (Kayla Nia)
Brentwood School

Column: The multiplicity of emotions that I feel with the return to in-person classes

As the number of COVID cases decrease in the Los Angeles area, there is a bittersweet feeling that manifests itself within the pit of my stomach. As a result of this lessening of cases, many schools are beginning to inch back to campus for a hybrid model or even a “normal” school schedule, and it didn’t take long for my school to adopt this notion.

I am elated that the pandemic is starting to disappear for now slowly, and we are returning to normalcy with the opening of restaurants, shops, and amusement parks. However, like many of my brave-hearted peers, I have opted to go back to in-person schooling. This transition has filled me with a multiplicity of emotions, including but not limited to: uneasiness, excitement, and uncertainty. 

During the extended period of staying at home and attending virtual class, I have assimilated to the expectations and lifestyle surrounding online learning; wearing pajamas 24/7, waking up 10 minutes before class starts, and taking open-note assessments. Returning to school has tested my psychological and physical capacities and capabilities in ways I have never experienced before. 

Before sharing the rest of my feelings about going back to in-person school, I would formally like to introduce myself. My name is Kayla Nia. I am a junior and attend Brentwood School, a rigorous college preparatory school. 

There are some advantages that I have experienced during the short two weeks that I have been back on campus (other than seeing my friends, of course). The amelioration of the inability to focus during zoom school and the return to purposefulness has finally been achievable with a return to campus.

Being back at school, I am expected to pay attention through the hour-long class periods, which, up until the conception of quarantine, was something I challenged less due to the routine I had trained myself so diligently to obey. 

According to, 42% of students indicated that it has been challenging to stay motivated to do classwork during the pandemic. I am in agreement with these students. Having spent so much time away, I was surprised to find the transition smooth and satisfactory.

I notice myself realizing how intently I’ve been focused in class, now that I get to interact with the work physically and the atmosphere around me. Having spent so much time in Brentwood’s Zoom Program, I found it challenging, toward the end, to stay focused, no matter how engaging the classes were, which contributed to the newly discovered appreciation I have for my routine and academic successes during in-person school.  

The most challenging part with going back to in-person school has been waking up earlier, re-learning how to take tests in person, and scavenging for my social skills. In addition, wearing masks for 8 hours has been rather tricky, and only getting to sit next to one of my friends during lunch and not my friend group has left me with a melancholy feeling. 

Besides fearing getting COVID in general, I feared what it would be like to go back in person. Would it look the same as before the pandemic? The same? These questions encapsulated into my mind filled me with uneasiness. However, these questions slowly start to wane as I get back into a new sense of normalcy. 

It is essential to consider how the pandemic’s longevity has affected the whole school system for the rest of the year. The entire dynamic and structural change have shifted to make the transition back easier, which lessons some of my uncertainty and worry. My tests have remained open-note so that the people that have opted to go back to in-person classes will have the same advantage as the people who are choosing to stay at home. Additionally, I wonder if the pandemic will change the schooling system forever or solely for this year. 

Given all that I have said, I am thankful that I am back to in-person schooling, even with the various precautions that Brentwood has placed that sometimes feel overbearing. I am eager and optimistic to see how the rest of the school year plays out regarding the pandemic and getting to have some more freedom on campus.