What returning to school looks and feels like in ‘unpredictable, unprecedented times’

Millions of students are heading back to school in person after a year of online learning. We asked students in our Student Reporting Labs network what returning to in-person learning looks and feels like amid new delta variant concerns, vaccinations debates and mask mandates.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Millions of students are headed back to school in person after a year of online learning.

    We asked students in our Student Reporting Labs network what returning to in-person learning looks and feels like amid new Delta variant concerns, vaccination debates, and mask mandates.

  • Victoria Tong, Student:

    It's only been like two weeks of school so far, and there are already like COVID cases.

  • Sylvie Powell, Student:

    School me honestly feels like it's my first time being here.

  • James Johnson, Student:

    I am at a school with a few hundred people, and I would say about half of them are either not wearing — like, either have the mask on their chin or don't have it covering their nose. And it's just the most frustrating thing ever.

  • Arianna Amaral, Student:

    I'm just really glad to be back in a classroom, because online school is just so mentally draining.

  • Anna Arrington, Student:

    The thing I'm most worried about going back to school is, am I going to have the motivation to do my schoolwork?

  • Michelle Xu, Student:

    It is definitely frustrating to see kids who think they're way too cool to wear a mask.

  • Zion Williams, Student:

    I'm kind of frustrated about that there's no mask mandate, just because I would be more comfortable if people wore masks.

  • Anna Long, Student:

    For me personally, it is quite a nightmare. No one is wearing masks. The numbers are completely rising, which is quite concerning, because I personally have asthma and respiratory problems.

  • Sydney Williams, Student:

    This year, it's honestly just really scary, because I feel like it is going to spread, which we're actually out of school right now because of COVID numbers, so…

  • Kaitlyn Rodriguez, Student:

    It's going to take us a while to get readjusted into an in school setting, so not bombarding us with a bunch of homework, a bunch of tests.

  • Kaelyn Mae, Student:

    Everybody handles stress differently. Like, some people are going to make jokes about COVID. Some people are going to be anxious and shy when they normally aren't.

  • Julia Wilkins, Student:

    I wish the adults making our decisions for our district focused more on mental health and our resources.

  • Annabelle Ubence, Student:

    I have lost a lot of social skills during the quarantine, and I'm worried that I'm going to be too nervous to talk to people.

  • Charlie Anderson, Student:

    I think a lot of people are going to get COVID and have to step out of school again, like they did last year.

  • Sofija Kleinschmidt, Student:

    It's definitely a time of a lot of compassion, empathy and mutual understanding that we are in very unpredictable, unprecedented times. And I feel like we're doing the best we can.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, yes, they are, but so hard to watch the things we are asking them to do.

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