Students work on their yearbook at Redondo Union High School in May. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Opinion

Opinion: Reflecting on in-person school

While returning to campus has been a difficult adjustment for most students, an in-person education has its benefits.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/riavoodi/" target="_self">Ria Voodi</a>

Ria Voodi

December 1, 2021
As the first semester of fully in-person school is coming to the end, I feel the need to reflect on what our attempt to go back to “normal life” has been like. Empty seats in classrooms are now filled, major events such as concerts and football games are back, and we’re finally starting to come back to some semblance of our old lives. How has that affected students and how are they holding up?

As a high school student, I can say that I prefer going back in person. This transition back, I believe, is responsible for happier teenagers. Coming back to school gave students across the nation like myself the one thing they missed the most during quarantine — social interaction.

Now I’m not going to generalize the entire teenage population but overall, there is definitely some sort of positive benefit that has come from going back in person. That being said, the struggles that have come as a result of this cannot be ignored. For many, I think the positive benefit lies in the social aspect of school and the challenges lie in the academic aspect. 

Academically, going back in person is definitely a struggle for many, myself included. We all grew so acclimated to the fact that we had a lot more time. That has immediately vanished now that we are starting to return to normalcy and everything happened so fast. For many high school students, all the things that we were balancing on our plate came back with full force and many of us did not have the time to fully adjust. We went from having little to no responsibility online to having a packed schedule. 

I feel that school was both easier and harder for students online. It was easier in the sense that tests required less studying, we had less physical accountability, and we had the freedom to not care. By that same token, it was harder because many teachers themselves hadn’t adjusted to teaching online and didn’t know how to teach properly. This led to a major struggle for students who did not grasp anything, especially in sequential subjects like math or in year-long classes such as AP courses. 

Coming back, students are held much more accountable, and more is expected from them, understandably so. Students also have greater opportunities to ask questions, get the necessary help they need from their teachers and have a more interactive, involved education.

But just because an in-person environment is easier for some students to learn, it doesn’t mean that they are necessarily thriving in it. The stress that comes as a result of taking challenging classes and dealing with the respective workload in a fully-packed schedule is immense. And dealing with that stress and still balancing everything is a struggle for me and I know it is for others as well. 

Taking all that into account, I’d still choose in-person school over online school in a heartbeat because of the social interaction that was lacking over quarantine. Humans in general, especially teenagers, thrive off of interacting with other people and building meaningful connections. All those interactions and connections were severed as our entire society went online. Now, we can see our friends at school, we can build new friendships with people in our classes, and essentially, we get the “fun” part of school back.

If anything, I have more respect placed on seeing people in person because it was absent for so long. It’s something that we took for granted and we’ll never make that mistake again because we now know the value of it. So personally, while school may be academically harder, social interaction is singly handedly responsible for making it all worth it. And I think the same can be said for students across the nation. 

So how is it going back in person? That question cannot be answered in a single sentence because there are so many nuances present in this transition back to our old lives. But the simple answer would be “so much better.” Our teenagers and our society desperately needed this. And one semester in, I’d say it’s going pretty well.