All students return to in-person schooling


Keith Pawlowski

After eight months of virtual instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students arrive at the high school for the first day of in-person classes on Nov. 9 for the first time since March 12.

Since March 13, the Freedom Area School District has been shut down due to COVID-19. This forced the entire district to go a different route with their teaching through the end of the school year. The students and staff were stuck on virtual learning. With a decrease in cases, the district was finally able to open back up to everyone. On Nov. 9, the entire district had every single grade level finally back to in-person learning. 

The students were reentering the school in phases starting with kindergarten and moving each day to a new grade level. This allowed for the students to be as safe as possible when reentering the halls of the schools. 

It feels wonderful to have kids back in the building. It’s just not the same around here without students. It feels lonely and flat. Having students back brings some life back to the building, but I still feel a bit anxious because of the Coronavirus. We’re glad to be back, but in order to stay in session, everyone must do their part to wear a mask and maintain social distancing,” high school Principal William Deal said. 

Many precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of every single student and anyone part of the staff. Masks must be worn the entire time within the building. The only time anyone is allowed to take them off is when you are in the lunch room, which has plexiglass at every lunch table. If the students need a break, they are able to go into the halls during class to take their masks off for a second. They are also allowed to go into the restroom stalls if the students need a mask break. 

Staircases are now designated to indicate which stairs students are allowed to use to go up and which ones students are allowed to use to go down. This allows for less traffic between students on the stairs and throughout the halls. The water fountains have been closed off as well, but students are still allowed to use the water bottle refilling stations located within the halls. Not only are there hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the halls, but each teacher also has disinfectant wipes in their rooms. 

Although Pennsylvania has been seeing a rise in cases recently, the district has plans in case students have to go back to virtual learning. 

“It feels taboo to talk about a shut down again, but we’ve tried to plan our procedures so ensure that we can move from in person to virtual instruction as fluidly as possible. As we see the steady increase in cases around us, we remain prepared to go virtual again even though we truly don’t want to have to do that,” Deal added. 

Classes for middle schoolers and high schoolers now run at their normal time, with class starting at 7:50 a.m. instead of 8:00, like it was while the students were virtual. Most students are quite happy to be back within the halls of the school. 

Being back in person has made me feel like I’m actually learning something and not just going through the motions. I did like online a little, but I think we all can agree it is so hard to be virtual. I know in just my first two days back I haven’t taken home more than 2 assignments for homework because I am learning and doing more in school. Learning virtual really affected mine and a lot of other student’s mental health. I did enjoy being home to be safe, but knowing that staff and teachers are doing everything in the school to keep us safe makes it easier for me to go back ever,” junior Emily Frashure said. 

All in all, most students are generally happy to be back in the building full time.