By Oura Miyazaki, Greenwich High School class of 2021
For the first time in nearly six months, I stepped inside of Greenwich High School. It felt like a usual first day of school, with my backpack on and my new schedule on my phone, until I saw the marks on the floor indicating the correct pathways to enact social distancing and everyone’s faces covered in masks.
The glass corridor felt more spacious, with only about half of the students present in school. Walking into my first class, I saw fewer desks. There now was a small camera on top of a thin stand, a microphone attached to my teacher’s clothes, and a Smartboard filled with faces of students at home. It was an odd and unprecedented setting for a classroom.
However, it did not feel entirely strange.
Sitting at a desk, listening to my teacher, and taking notes all felt normal. Moreover, despite the masks and social distance, students were able to communicate with each other, sharing ideas.
Ascending a staircase in the student center, I looked over the handrail and noticed the lines of socially distanced classroom desks that had replaced the lunch tables. Around them swirled students traveling in one direction. Although there were several moments during the day when I almost forgot about the uncomfortable mask I was wearing or the need to sanitize my hands, these peculiar views reminded me of the situation I was in.
For lunch, students were assigned to a particular section of the school to eat. Some sat at desks at the student center, some were on the floors of a gym, and some, including myself, went outside to eat. With many new sights and rules, the day felt long.
I also experienced a full day of remote learning. Finding a spot in my house, I turned on the camera at 8:30am. With my eyes focused on the screen, I now viewed what the small camera in the classroom was capturing. Between classes – when I would usually be walking toward my next classroom – I stretched out, got some water, and sat down again to search for a link to join my next class. It was harder to grasp the new type of classroom from home. Unlike the last few months of the previous school year, however, access to live classes made me feel more proximate to teachers and peers.
As some teachers explored the different options for engaging both the remote and in-class learners, I experienced some difficulties but mostly fascination.
The sudden loss of a wifi connection or a few vibrating voices are almost unavoidable when connecting people through screens. However, hearing some in-school students share their answers while I was at home or participating in a group activity through the chat box on Google Meets was somewhat thrilling.
While I miss the overcrowded glass corridors and the liveliness of classrooms, I am also interested in seeing how we will try to maintain a robust and rigorous learning atmosphere while following the safety protocols.
Oura Miyazaki is a member of the Greenwich High School class of 2021
One GHS Student’s Reflections on School Reopening during Covid, by Benjamin Shi