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How Students View Hybrid Learning and What They Have To Say On The Return To School

Going back to school during COVID-19 has been a topic of discussion for many months now. Debates on whether it is safe to go back to school and how was a challenge that sparked many disagreements amongst the NHS community. After going back and forth, the NHS has decided to finally send students and staff back to school in a hybrid manner. NHS students will return in person for one or two days out of the five-day week. 


Students and their parents received an email about whether they feel comfortable sending their child back to school in a hybrid fashion or not. Some decided to stay home and remain virtual while others wanted to feel a sense of normalcy and returned back to school. Three cohorts have been assigned based on last names and depending on when their days meet, they will appear to school in person. 


When students had to make the decision to come back to school or not, some either made the decision themselves, or the decision was entirely up to their parents. Lindsay Merritt, a current junior at NHS has decided to opt-out of hybrid classes, and stay virtual. She says, “my mom gave her input on the situation, but in the end let me make the final decision. Alyssa Ostrowski, who is also a current junior who has chosen to come back to school says, “It was both my parents' and my decision to come back hybrid. My parents thought it was important to get back and I was comfortable going back.” 


Students who have chosen to stay home, either decided that learning from the comfort of their home has been more beneficial to them or for personal reasons. Lindsay says “I didn’t feel comfortable going back into the building and being around people with the pandemic going on.” A lot of students feel the same way that Lindsay does and have stayed home for those exact reasons. 


Lindsay explains that learning from home has multiple benefits. “You don’t have to wake up as early as you would for in-person classes and most importantly, you don’t have to worry about coming in contact with people who could have the virus.” A lot of students who have stuck with virtual learning have the same experiences as Lindsay. Coming back to school felt weird to them and a change that most students were not ready to adapt to. 


For some students, like junior Alyssa Ostrowski, the advantages of coming back to school outweigh the disadvantages. Mental health and education take priority which is why Alyssa has decided to return back to school in a hybrid fashion. “For me, waking up five days a week to do school from my bed got really unmotivating and felt like I was repeating the same day over and over again,” said Alyssa.  “Virtual school is very lonely, and the part I missed most about school was seeing my friends every day.” 


When asked about safety in schools, Alyssa says “I feel safe at school. In my classes, there are no more than 10 students and the classrooms are pretty big so it is easy to stay socially distanced.” All desks are six feet apart and there are hallway directionals to avoid passing other students in the stairways. There is tape on the floors with arrows to indicate where students are able to walk. Adapting to the new rules in school is a safe and easy way to stop the spread of the virus. 


Hybrid learning has benefited a lot of students. Learning from classrooms motivates students in ways they have not been motivated in over a year. While Nutley elementary students will return five days on April 19th, NHS students will continue in their current cohorts.


Lindsay Merritt says that if the school were to open up five days a week in the future, she “will not be returning. I think it is unsafe for the whole school to go back and have large numbers of students in small classrooms.” Although Lindsay will not be returning, Alyssa, who has chosen to go hybrid, has stated that she will return to school five days a week if she can in the future. 


The different views between students who have chosen to stay home and those who came back to school are very interesting. Students who stayed home enjoy it while the ones who came back to school did not enjoy being home all the time.  Staying in the same environment for too long can be draining emotionally and mentally. Sometimes change is needed and thankfully NHS was able to fit all students' needs and allowed them to pick how they would ultimately like to learn while also being able to take the right safety precautions.