Students Talk About Back to School


Photo/Jennifer Ishler

Emily Ishler taking photos by the door before school in State College, PA, Aug. 27, 2020.

Faith Bennett, Staff Writer

State College Area School District students were back in school on Wednesday, August 26. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are three different learning options for the school year: In-person, full-time remote, and the Virtual Academy. Students have experienced many different ups and downs so far.

Many students have had no issue staying in touch with their friends. Senior Anna Ferris is doing full-time remote learning and still feels connected to her peers. “I can still connect with in-person friends and we can relate to online learning. Nobody’s really seeing friends at school much anyways,” Ferris said. She feels that most people doing in school don’t get to see their friends due to the safety restrictions. Amelia Wyckoff is a senior and is doing the Virtual Academy. “Four of my friends are also doing the Virtual Academy, so we have been able to create a safe bubble to work together,” Wyckoff said. 

State High is following a multitude of safety measures for COVID-19 such as wearing masks, social distancing, and disinfecting desks and chairs. Sophomore Emily Ishler said that she feels comfortable at school, as students adhere to safety measures. “I feel safe at school because everyone is wearing a mask and we always spray the desks and chairs when coming into class. I don’t think I’ve ever felt unsafe,” Ishler said.  

Students doing Virtual Academy and remote learning only work on school using their computers at home. Ferris and Wyckoff both stay at home and said that they feel more comfortable being in their house than the school because of the many students that went back. Wyckoff also added that she enjoys doing the virtual academy because she can do it in the comfort of her home.

SCASD has had some trouble with technology use and the health concerns it brings. “I haven’t experienced many technical issues except in Google Meet. Some students can’t hear sometimes and presentations are hard. It’s been okay so far but not perfect,” Ferris said. “My back hurts all the time. All-day I feel uncomfortable and hunched over. I usually don’t get headaches but have gotten them a lot recently. “ Being on the computer screen all day can cause these issues which is why some teachers are recommending you take breaks between classes.

Organization can be hard for many students. Since not all students are physically in school they had to come up with new ways to stay organized. Ferris said that while she hasn’t been doing the best job being organized this year, she tries. “[I] have a planner where I write down all my homework and all the things I need to do,” Ferris said. For Virtual Academy students, since Edgenuity is a fully online learning platform, it also helps to stay organized. “The challenge is being motivated to do all of your work because there is no one hovering over you,” Wyckoff said. 

When asked if she would still sign up for the in-person option if she could go back in time, Ishler responded with, “Yes, because I missed being able to see and talk to my friends even if we can’t be close to each other.” She talked about how enjoyable it was to be able to see her friends and teachers in person. Ferris answered differently, though, saying she might not have chosen full-time remote learning. “I might consider doing the Virtual Academy because it’s designed for people to take online,” Ferris said. She added that if she had chosen the Virtual Academy, it might have been easier so she could do her work on her own time because she got so used to that during quarantine.

Students have only been in school for a little bit but have a feel for what the rest of the school year will be like. Overall, Ishler said, “I feel like it’s pretty good, and since there are less people I feel good about it.” She likes the split alphabet and how students could choose how they wanted to learn. Similarly, Wyckoff said she’s glad she chose the Virtual Academy. “Right now, I love my classes and Edgenuity as a whole. Overall, I feel confident with my decision especially as coronavirus case numbers go up and the idea of full-remote seems inevitable.” Ferris didn’t feel the same. She confessed, “The past week I have felt very frustrated, extremely exhausted, worn down, and like I cannot take this anymore. I think part of that is due to the fact that for the past 6 months or so it’s been really easy and not much was going on.” 

Due to the virus, this year has been different for all students. Even with the three different learning options and still adjusting, students are looking forward to this school year. The general consensus among students seems that they hope SCASD can be back to normal next year.