Feelings mixed about scheduled Jan. 26 return to school building


Photo credit Simone Shah

Seventh-grader Simone Shah studies online and wonders what in-person school will be like with a pandemic.

“Since I haven’t been to clubs, games, or school, I don’t feel like I am actually part of Carson, and that I’m actually in school,” says Simone Shah, an RCMS seventh-grader. 

Many students are struggling to adjust to the online learning environment, especially with the extended screen time. To help, FCPS plans to start bringing middle school students back to school Jan. 26, but RCMS students and staff have mixed feelings on the plan.

Online learning has been different for everyone, but it has been quite tricky for incoming seventh-graders such as Simone. She says most people aren’t used to the bell schedule in middle school and the large number of teachers that they have.

“If we were in school, we would be able to connect with others and socialize with our peers, but with online learning, people are afraid to make friends because they think they will be criticized,” she says.

It has also had a large impact on the eighth-graders like Anika Giri.

“In seventh grade, we were able to collaborate and talk with our friends, but this year in online learning we aren’t able to have the same experience,” Anika says. 

On a typical online school day at Rachel Carson Middle School, students are expected to be logged in on time for school at 7:30 am with the day ending and 2:15 pm every week from Tuesday to Friday.

Students are expected to attend class and do the assignments, turn them in on time, and listen while being taught by their teachers as well. But such simple-sounding tasks may not be as easy as they seem.

 “It can be hard to keep track of turning work in on time and focusing on studying,” said Hannah Burnstein, a seventh-grader at Rachel Carson Middle School.

RCMS has started pulling back groups of students to go to school, although even after the big return date of Jan. 26, some students will continue online according to their family’s preference.

Schools are pushing to get students back to school so students can complete their studies and continue to the next level. They are also opening to provide essential services, access to nutrition, and child welfare such as preventing violence against children.

With schools opening, I feel like a lot of more content can be taught by teachers and a lot of more students could be cared for,” Anika says.

There will also be many guidelines in place that students have to follow if they go back to school. Some of these guidelines include: keeping on masks at all times, all surfaces will be cleaned, social distancing will be mandatory, and all students will have to stay clean.

More students will be able to interact with other people and with guidelines in place everyone will be safe as well,” Simone says.

These guidelines are in place to keep students and staff safe and to help school days move smoothly.

There will also be some shifting for teachers when going back to school. Teachers will have to adapt and change some of their technology to accommodate for students both in-school and online. 

“I think that in-school learning will be efficient, and I know we are all going to work hard to make it work for you guys,” says RCMS English teacher Ms. Kelly Ross. “We want everyone to stay safe and stay socially distanced like the way we need to. I think if we have made virtual learning work, we can make anything work!” 

Teachers will be expected to help students get used to social distancing and wearing masks in school if certain students are not already used to it or are uncomfortable with it. Going back to school will definitely take some effort on the teacher’s side, but they say it can happen with some determination and perseverance.

“I think that all of us want to go back,” Ms. Ross says. “You’re not going to find many of us who like to sit on their computer for 12 hours a day! We want to be with you guys and in-person is always going to be the best.” 

Simone still has concerns about the return.

“In school, we tend to collaborate and socialize, but with social distancing in school we wouldn’t be able to communicate as well with others and do collaborative work,” she says. 

But Anika is looking at the positives.

“I feel like compared to online learning,” she says, “in-school learning would be much more efficient because we would be able to connect with each other much better than online.”