The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Student and Teacher Voices on In-Person School

Middle School students socializing under the Carriage House tent before school. Now that all students are back on campus, they get to socialize with their friends more often (Martina Tognato Guaqueta/International Dateline).

Fully in-person school started on August 30 after 535 days of pandemic hurdles, through both distance and hybrid learning. Now, after six weeks of in-person school, the WIS community is reflecting on their experiences being back. 

Upper School Spanish Teacher Ana Maria Nicolich enjoys seeing students laughing and talking together inside and outside the classroom. 

“I think the attitude is a little bit different. It’s a happier environment,” Nicolich said. 

She also finds it much easier to have conversations with her students, since she gets to see them every day. 

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“When we were working in hybrid model and distance learning, it was very difficult to have conversations,” she said. “I felt my students [were] so far away. There was a wall that divid[ed] us.” 

Upper School Math and Science Teacher Tony Godwin believes that hybrid learning was even more challenging than distance learning. There was a separation from the students on Zoom, and masks caused another separation in the classroom.

“[The mask] removes a lot of significantly important social interaction,” he said. “It really reduces the effectiveness of facial expressions when you’re teaching. And people just don’t read each other very well.”

Senior Alexandra Webel described the transition back to campus as easy because it was like coming back to normal school. Webel was virtual for the entirety of last school year because she spent quarantine in Francet. This year is her first time back on campus since March 2020.

“It was a little weird because of its time difference,” she said. “It was a little more stressful than normal.”

Overall, Webel feels comfortable, since now WIS has mandated vaccinations for people who are eligible. She does, however, still have a few transmission concerns.

“It’s still a little stressful, but not as much as it would have been a year ago,” she said. 

Webel is noticing a higher workload than what there was virtually. An advantage to being online was that she had the freedom to do homework during the day, instead of having to stay up late. But she enjoys being back at school everyday and getting to be around her friends more often. 

“Being able to do things with people again is very nice, and I think that’s probably the most important aspect of being in person at school,” she said. 

Sophomore Siena Geating joined WIS halfway through last school year, while hybrid learning was going on. This year is her first time being with her whole grade.

“I didn’t really interact with people because I only saw them half the time,” she said. “It wasn’t as high energy.”

In addition to socializing with people, Geating has been enjoying being a part of clubs this year. A standout moment from her first few weeks of fully in person school was the clubs assembly in the Black Box Theater, the first time the Upper School was all together there this year. 

“We were all together in one room, and honestly that room holds way more people than I thought it would,” she said.

Geating also saw some advantages to hybrid learning, such as the 10 minute passing time and having a 30 minute study hall every day. She also enjoyed the extra attention from teachers.

“Because the classes were so small, you did get more attention from the teacher,” she said. “If you were online, not really.”

Sophomores working in class. Classes are no longer divided in two cohorts, and students are all in one room together (Martina Tognato Guaqueta/International Dateline).

Nicolich believes the school has been doing a good job of having proper safety measures. However, she is concerned when students who are outside stand very close to each other without masks. She also said that oftentimes, she’ll see a student walk into a building unmasked, and has to remind them to put it on.

“COVID is something that is living with us, and we have to be very aware of that and try to be careful,” she said. “And try to follow certain rules and be always attentive of our surroundings and use masks.”

Godwin, on the other hand, has been very impressed with the behavior of students so far. He has seen some rule-breaking but believes that’s usually due to forgetfulness. 

“I’m always stunned when I walk into a room where students are on their own, and if they’re not eating, their mask is on,” he said. “That’s really impressive.”

With vaccinations, an upgraded mask and his upcoming booster shot, Godwin feels very comfortable on campus. He is even optimistic that there might be a few months where masking won’t be required at the end of the year, due to herd immunity. 

“The sooner we get the masks off, the better,” he said. 

Godwin wants students to know that the teachers are doing everything they can do to make up for the education gap caused by the pandemic. He expressed sympathy for students because of the pandemic. 

“I feel really bad for all of you at school, particularly some grades, who have been robbed of a very important part of growing up,” he said.

Nicolich hopes that the school year can continue the way it has been going so far. She finds the campus much more pleasant with students on it, and loves seeing them all together again.

“I hope this continues as it is now, so we can see the students grow intellectually, physically and emotionally,” she said. “All those developments that we couldn’t see last year.” 

By Naomi Breuer

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About the Contributor
Naomi Breuer
Naomi Breuer, Editor-in-Chief
I am Editor-in-Chief of Dateline this year. As a junior last year, I was a Publications Editor and Middle School News Advisor. As a sophomore, I was WIS News Editor, and Arts Editor as a freshman. Other than Dateline, I enjoy baking, playing guitar, biking and participating in Model UN.

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