For most Nebraska high school students, the 2020-21 school year has been anything but normal. Many students have experienced mask-wearing in class and at school activities, and social distancing practices in classrooms and the cafeteria. We asked three high school students their thoughts about attending school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what they said.
Charlie Horton, Lincoln Northeast High School, 9th grade
Kourtney Stege, Tri County High School, 10th grade
Oved Ramirez, Lexington High School, 11th grade
What positives and negatives have you found in current social distancing guidelines at school?
Charlie: Wearing a mask and keeping it on at all times is tough. We go to school in-person only a couple days a week, so the hallways aren’t crowded. You can get to classes quickly and don’t have the temptation to socialize because not all your friends are there on the same day as you.
Kourtney: I’m glad we have to wear masks because people feel more comfortable.
Oved: At first it was annoying to wear the mask, and I had a hard time breathing with it on during football practice. But there aren’t many positive cases in our school, so I think the guidelines are helping.
What have you enjoyed about virtual learning? What has been difficult?
Charlie: It’s hard to completely understand what’s going on in class because the teacher can’t really see your body language and know when you’re confused. An upside of virtual learning days is that in some classes, teachers let you work at your own pace.
Kourtney: It was nice to be in my house, but it was way more difficult to learn over a computer screen because you can’t always get your questions answered. I also missed being able to see anyone. I had some friendships break up because we didn’t talk as much.
Oved: We went virtual in spring 2020. I liked being at home, but I had distractions and had a hard time understanding the lessons because I couldn’t ask questions as easily. I’d pick to be at school.
What do you wish school officials knew about the COVID high school student experience?
Charlie: All the assignments you’re supposed to get done is overwhelming, and not being able to communicate with teachers every day of the week makes it more difficult.
Kourtney: Masks can be distracting; teachers have to make sure they are on and being worn correctly. Overall, we can’t do as much so it takes away from the high school experience.
Oved: It’s not just about going to school. It’s about social interactions with others and participating in activities. We’ve really missed out on those memories by going virtual.
What has COVID taught you about the American high school student experience?
Charlie: In the spring, we weren’t in school. So now everyone wants social interaction with anyone – so most people are generally nice and more accepting.
Kourtney: I was surprised at how much easier it is to learn when you’re in a classroom. Being around your peers also makes it more enjoyable.
Oved: Don’t take things for granted, and enjoy being with people. Follow the guidelines and take advantage of social interactions.
What have you learned about yourself during this time?
Charlie: It got boring when we had to stay home during the spring. I learned that I really like being with people.
Kourtney: I learn better when physically in school, and being around people makes me feel less stressed because it’s easier to ask for help.
Oved: It’s difficult not being able to see people. Being by myself is boring.