Rio students attend first full day of school in over a year

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Isabella (Isa) Searle, Editor in Chief

A week ago, students arrived at school at 8:05 a.m. to take on their first 6 period school day for the first time in a year and a half. Though the return to a traditional school year finally happened, COVID-19 has already made its mark on it.

The 2021-2022 school year has started out like any other school year, five days a week with six classes a day, as opposed to last year’s schedule which was four days a week with three classes a day. Immediately, students knew they were happy to return.

“The first day of school went great; it was exciting to meet my new teachers and see all of my classmates again,” senior Kara Haligan said. “It felt great to finally be back on campus.”

Though in-person learning did return for the final months of the 2020-2021 school year, it was only three periods a day with social distancing in place. After such a long break from a normal type of learning, other students felt a little overwhelmed. 

“I feel like the first day of school was kind of weird, you know,” sophomore Cherish Dawson said. “Everyone hasn’t had real school in about a year and a half. I wasn’t really used to seeing a whole bunch of people in one place.”

Whether happy or overwhelmed with the new school year, students expressed relief to not be learning through Zoom. From distractions to bad internet connections, most did not enjoy the experience. 

“I prefer in-person [learning] because it’s so easy to just slack off and lose track of the zoom meeting and go do other things,” Dawson said. “Sometimes I was really tempted to go back to sleep. But when you’re in school you have to be focused and awake.”

With so many students on campus this year, it is almost inevitable that not everyone will follow the rules. Haligan says she wishes she could see stricter safety regulations on campus.

“I’m comfortable being back on campus mainly because I know I’m vaccinated so I’m not at too great of a risk,” Haligan said. “I would still prefer more safety protocols because although I know I’m being safe, I can’t say the same for everyone else and still see people walking around with their mask below their nose.”

What the future of the school year will look like remains to be seen. Though many students hope to stay in school all year, there is still a chance that online learning could return.

“I think anything is possible,” Principal Cliff Kelly said. “What I’ve learned is just be ready to pivot and do the best of trying to support the students and families as you can.”

Though circumstances can change at any moment, students and staff are doing everything they can to ensure a normal, or as normal as possible, school year. For now, students can look forward to coming to campus every day and finally being back in the classroom.

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