Back To School – For Real This Time

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Riley Yowell, FCHS Journalist

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On Aug. 11, all the students at FCHS returned for an in-person year of learning. The catch? For most of the students, this was the first time they had been in high school in two years. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut schools down in March of 2020 and Fluvanna County decided to start the 2020-2021 school year in an all-virtual setting, students and teachers were forced into a new environment. Now, in this 2021-2022 school year, everyone is back in familiar territory. 

Many students are simply happy to be back.  “It’s easier to be more on task and to use the school’s resources,” states junior Jackson Kinsella.  “It’s nice to not have an empty building… it doesn’t feel like you are here just for school.” He added.

For most teachers and students, this change is something they’ve been looking forward to; yet, it is not without its disadvantages.  “I am enjoying it, but it’s a big transition adjusting from 30 minutes of teaching time to 130 minutes,” stated English teacher Jennifer Elliot.  “Class is much more boring” and she “hates not having any type of break.” junior Brooke Napier agreed.

Of course, while this excitement is evident, the most significant change to daily school life cannot be ignored. On Aug. 9, the Fluvanna School Board ruled to enforce the Virginia state law of mandatory mask-wearing in school buildings. The students at FCHS have many different opinions on this ruling. The result from an Instagram poll published by the FCHS Journalism page showed that out of 261 students surveyed, 55% of the students supported the mask mandate, leaving 45% opposed. 

Some students are disappointed by the way the Aug. 9 ruling was a reversal of a previous ruling. On July 29, the Fluvanna School Board ruled to make wearing a mask a personal choice. Once Governor Ralph Northam released a message enforcing a mandatory mask mandate in all schools in Virginia, Fluvanna School Board had no choice but to roll back their initial decision. While some students were disappointed by this, most understand the necessity of the decision. “I was really excited it was going to be a choice, so I’m disappointed that we still have to wear them. But I completely understand why it’s important for us too,” stated Napier.

This seems to be the logic for most of the students in support of the mask mandate. “Since people haven’t had vaccines, this is what we needed to do,” stated eighth-grader Cadie Ellington. Kinsella also agrees, stating that the Fluvanna School Board was “1000% in the right and that a mask mandate keeps people safe, protects others, and allows us to stay in school”. 

Currently, there have been several complaints from students about how some of their peers refuse to wear their masks correctly. While masks certainly can be hot, uncomfortable, and rather irritating, it is a necessity for FCHS to continue to push through. Most did not care for virtual school, so it would be crucial for the students to continue to wear their masks if only to keep us in person. 

It may seem uncomfortable now, but you know what they say: “Great things never came from comfort zones.”