Entering and walking through the halls of Parkway South High School at the start of the 2021-2022 school year is something that most students are already familiar with, but for some, this is a new or delayed experience.
Some students haven’t stepped into a classroom since March of 2020, right before schools were shut down for the COVID-19 Pandemic.
At the end of the 2019-2020 school year and the first 2 quarters of the 2021-2021 year, all Parkway students had to participate in school online via applications such as Zoom, Schoology, and Google Classroom.
Many students have already returned to school during the 2020-2021 school year. During the 3rd quarter that started in January of 2021, Parkway gave students the option to do either in person, hybrid (you would Zoom into teachers with an in person), or to be completely online.
Students who chose the completely online option were part of the Parkway Virtual Academy and not a part of their high school. This Academy had students and teachers from all four of Parkway high schools but was considered a separate school.
Junior Ben Nava was a Virtual Academy student last school year. Nava chose the online option because he was afraid of being exposed to COVID-19 at school. He talked about his favorite parts of online school.
“The thing I enjoyed was that it was a lot more laid back and also I could sleep in,” he said.
Nava mentioned which classes he enjoyed the most while online.
“My favorite class to do online was either Math, History, or Ceramics because neither of these classes required me to have my camera on (except for Ceramics which had to be on to show me working on my clay work) and they were quite easy as they were not incredibly much different than in-person Math and history or regular ceramics,” he said.
However, Nava also mentioned the struggles that came with the choice of online learning.
“The cons of being online is (that) the social part of your life (at least for me) is basically gone as I did not talk to anyone at all unless it was to find out answers to questions in class. Also, motivation is very hard to maintain because sometimes it feels so easy to not go on Zoom at all,” he said.
Activities such as sports were kept the same for online students. They had to show up to practice after school like the in person students, but the sports still had a lot of COVID-19 regulations that students and coaches had to follow. Some of these rules included wearing masks at all times, even while playing and filling out a daily health form before practice each day.
Sophomore Athena Miransky was also a Virtual Academy student last year. She mentions how playing sports was different last year than what she was used to.
“I did volleyball; it was fun but harder to play because we had to wear masks and gloves,” she said.
Miransky did mention some aspects that she personally enjoyed about the online school experience.
“I had more time to do things in the day,” said Miransky. “You can sleep in, you don’t have to get ready; you have more free time.”
Junior Jake Cheung was also all-virtual last year. He mentioned that he enjoyed the pacing of online classes compared to those in person.
“It is a lot easier to go at your own pace in online school. It is a lot less punishing when you miss something in class on Zoom compared to in-person,” he said.
While Cheung did enjoy online classes, he’s looking forward to attending in person this year.
“(The best part is) actually being able to socialize with people was very refreshing when school went back in person, and it is a lot easier to pay attention and not get distracted while in-person,” Cheung said.
Although returning to South High wasn’t without some struggles that needed to be overcome.
“Getting used to where everything is located in the building was the hardest part, but it didn’t take very long to get back into it,” said Cheung. “It was more exhausting at first, but now that I am used to it again it has been a lot easier to manage.”
Nava said he has an optimistic view about returning to in-person school this year.
“Yes I am definitely excited for this year and am looking to take more opportunities this year compared to my freshman year as high school is nearing a close(for me),” he said.