Staying strong while dreaming of returning to ‘normal’ school days

Khadijah McFadden, teen editor-in-chief of the Durham VOICE. (Staff photo by Carlton Koonce)


After a long, unexpected and crazy break during the coronavirus pandemic, it is now time for students to “return” to school.

School this year will look a lot different than any other. This year the majority of local schools will be online for probably the entirety of the fall semester however, chances could creep up that this could end up lasting through the entire school year.

A recent study by Burbio, an aggregator of school, government, community and library event information from across the country, found that more than half of the nation’s students in K-12th grades will start the school year remotely.

Julie Roche, a Burbio co-founder, was quoted saying the situation will be “fluid” for the entire academic year.

“Many districts have thresholds for Covid-19 levels that could result in converting back to remote learning,” said Roche. “Other districts are planning to revisit the ‘on-line’ decision as soon as September and could convert to in-person models.”

There are a lot of students, including myself, who would like to return to school for many reasons. Some students want to go back to school to be with their friends, while some students are more worried that they won’t get their full high school or even college experience by not returning to school. Many probably will not, considering that they could miss out on different activities including sports, a real graduation for seniors, as well as prom, and other different activities that have been cancelled for public health reasons.

There are certain students who don’t mind missing all of the different school activities, but there are some who do.

            Some students who are rising high school and college freshmen may be upset with having to start their new beginnings with a mix of some classes online and some in-person.

Giselle Santos, a rising freshman at Meredith College, is one of these students. She recently had a volunteer program of which she is a part, moved to primarily online due to Covid.

  “It just shows how Covid is causing a lot of changes for different students,” Santos said. Santos said that while freshman year is supposed to be the year for new beginnings, it is also when you make new friends, become more mature and take on more responsibility.

“For this experience to be taken away for students really sucks, especially for college freshmen,” Santos said. “Most students who are entering college have probably been counting down the days until they go to college and move in and spend their first year on campus with their new roommate.”

“They want to enjoy their first homecoming, sporting events, parties and even some of their classes,” she said.

 Santos said she hopes that by spring semester things are “a bit back to normal.”

To this point, high school seniors like myselfwould like to return to school simply because this is senior year. This is the last year to be with all of our high school friends before the majority of us go our separate ways. Senior year is the year that I and many of my upperclassmen classmates look forward to throughout their entire education. It is the year where we make the best memories with our peers. Although students might understand that we are doing online classes for our own safety, we just don’t want to fully accept that this is what it has come to.

With online school, we will not be able to be around friends nor do the social things students would do during a normal school year. Still, I think students stand together, for the most part, in that we know this is what is best for everyone — students, teachers, staff and families — even as this is a life-changing experience that we will never forget.

Although doing online school is what is best for everyone, this probably hurts rising freshman and seniors more. Most students are probably very unhappy with how last year and now this year is turning out. The only thing we can do now is try to pick up the pieces and do whatever we can to make sure that we can all get back to in-person classes.

This spring and summer for Durham students has been chaotic, to say the least. I hope that by the end of this school year I will be writing a different column about closing the year out with a safe return to “normal.”

Khadijah McFadden is a senior at Research Triangle High School serving this year with Partners for Youth Opportunity as the teen editor-in-chief of the Durham VOICE