Enjoying the today of it

Going back to school post COVID


Grace Reiland, Student Writer

As the weather begins to get colder and the days become shorter, it is time for school to start. But this year is starting differently than the past two: fewer masks and more smiles. Students and teachers get to truly go back to school.

This year, students can go to football games, meet with clubs, and most can sit in class without the fear of getting a severe case of COVID. No more splitting people up half at home, a quarter in the commons, and a quarter in the room. 

Many districts are seeing this as a building year, working to fix all that COVID changed. The Star Tribune reports that over 870,000 students returned to school on the sixth, hoping for a year different from the rest. Districts have to be flexible with teachers leaving, CDC guidelines changing, and resetting their educational expectations. 

The Washington Post highlighted The National Assessment of Educational Progress report that stated that this has been the largest drop in math and reading scores in US public schools. In only two years reading scores fell five points, and math seven. Michael R. Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, reports that “the pandemic wiped out 20 years of student gains in both subjects.”

Due to all of this loss, the NAEP says deeper and more aggressive interventions are necessary to get back to where students need to be. But both students and teachers want to get there. 

Many schools are working on social-emotional learning as well as academics. Students will learn not only the curriculum but also how to walk through the school, be with other people again, and sit through hours of class a day. They adjusted to at-home learning, but will now need to convert back to in-person learning.

As school is restarting, parents, students, and teachers have to be ready. Sarah Fulton, mother of a sixth-grader in Minnesota says “The kids are excited to be back in class with no masks, and seeing their friends fully, I’m still a little apprehensive, but I am just trying to enjoy the ‘today’ of it.”

Teachers and students have been greatly impacted by COVID in their everyday life. Both have to pivot constantly.

Our own teachers at Totino-Grace are no exception. A teacher here is ready for school to get back to normal, saying, “I anticipate classroom management being a little easier.” Last year, students, old and new, had a hard time adjusting to school again. She said respect “was hard to come by for some.” 

This was a challenge for teachers across Totino-Grace and America. 

Respect was one of the many lessons forgot while online. But this Totino-Grace teacher can already “see a difference in students’ decorum in class, and it has improved a lot!”  

Although this was a very hard time in everyone’s life, there were some positives seen in school. She observed that “Students appreciated being in the building, being with their teachers in person, and being back with their friends.” They aren’t taking school for granted anymore. “For the most part,” she says, “they are happy to be here.” 

A Totino-Grace sophomore felt anxious about starting the new year. She says she’s heard upperclassmen talk about going back to normal “but as a freshman last year I didn’t know what normal meant at Totino-Grace.” 

Like most, this sophomore is thankful that she doesn’t have to worry about getting sick. She said, “ I feel like last year it was embarrassing if you were the kid who got COVID, but now I feel like people see it as more normal.”

It will take Totino-Grace time to rebuild the sense of community they take pride in. Both teachers and students want the same thing. It will take patience from both sides, but the hope is that eventually, everyone can, as Fulton said, “enjoy the today of it.”