Students and teachers react to returning to school full time

Fully in-person learning will begin Monday, Feb. 1 for middle and high schoolers

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Surprised by the decision to return in person even though case numbers for COVID-19 are rising is sophomore Jaxon

Payton Ross, JAG reporter/photographer

Junior Lauren Payne says she’s nervous about case numbers, but excited about the return to in-person

The Board made the decision that secondary students will return fully in person on Monday, Feb. 1. The decision has been met with both praise and criticism from teachers and students across the district. 

Although she is looking forward to getting to interact with all her students during the full in-person learning module, spanish teacher Jan Good-Bollinger is also extremely nervous about how the possibility of a student having COVID-19 will impact the quarantining process. 

“I am still sort of surprised and find it sort of confusing. Having the whole class together will be really exciting and I will love seeing the students with their energy ‘In-Person’, but I find it kind of scary too,” Good-Bollinger said. “If whole classrooms and their teacher need to quarantine that will be rough, and I really hope that doesn’t happen to me or my students.” 

Spanish teacher Jan Good-Bollinger says she’s nervous about the return to in-person.

To some, the school board’s decision to move to full in-person school was a shock, much like junior Lauren Payne, who was surprised to see such a drastic change in the learning model when cases in Johnson County are not significantly lower than they were during the hybrid learning model. 

“My reaction was genuine surprise because I thought the COVID-19 case numbers would have to significantly drop before the decision was made to go back full time, and since they haven’t I didn’t expect this decision from the Board at all,” Payne said, “I am excited to get to see people but that also makes me nervous because the whole thing seems unsafe.” 

Critics of the decision, like sophomore Jaxson Elmer, believe that the switch in learning modules has come too quickly, agreeing with Payne that cases in the county are still fairly high.

“I’m confused why we made the decision to go back full time so quickly,” Elmer said. “I think It’s too soon especially since cases are still pretty high.”

Many students and parents across the district are wondering if the full in-person learning module will stay in effect for the remainder of the school year. 

Believing that the school board made the decision to switch to full in-person school too quickly, Elmer is less optimistic about the chances of this new learning module sticking around.

“I don’t think fully in-person learning will last the rest of the year. I think it will only be two or three weeks at the most,” Elmer said. 

Other students appear more hopeful, with Payne stating that with only one semester left in the school year, she could see this new learning module becoming more permanent.

“I honestly don’t know. I think that if we go back full time it could very possibly stay like that,” Payne said. 

This change in the learning module by the school board is not their only controversial choice this year — the decision to switch to fully remote learning last semester also drew criticism.

Despite not being able to see and engage with students in-person, Good-Bollinger believes that fully remote school allowed for students to better interact with one another this year than the previous hybrid model. 

“I think that it was easier to get to know certain students better in hybrid and remote. Having fewer students in a room at a time allows you to pay more attention to individuals,” Good-Bollinger said. “I will miss the chance to have connections with individuals and small groups.”

Although she enjoyed reaping the benefits of remote learning, Good-Bollinger also sees many positives in the new fully in-person learning module, including more fun and engaging lesson plans. 

“Lesson planning and the dynamics of working with students are probably going to feel better when they are all here. Getting a read on students’ understanding is so much easier when they are in-Person, Good-Bollinger. “The energy of them in the room is also a real asset most of the time.”

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