High school seniors anticipate the challenges of starting their final year during the pandemic

Class of 2021 faces a difficult school year
Posted at 9:00 AM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 09:37:04-04

BALTIMORE, Md. — The decision whether to reopen schools or continue online learning this fall could have a big impact on high school seniors as they begin their final year before graduation.

Seniors have a lot on their minds, their health, their studies and if they’re prepared for college, but they have to get through this school year first.

The class of 2021 faces a school year unlike any other and students have mixed feelings about how they will go back to school.

Baltimore City high school senior and student commissioner Joshua Lynn said “interested but also kind of scared to see what this all entails when we start in September.”

Carroll County high school senior and state recovery committee member Grant Procopio said “I’m glad we're going to go back into the classroom for a couple days for in-person instruction, so I actually feel like I’m getting an education, instead of just completing assignments.”

Baltimore County high school senior and state recovery committee member Noureen Badwi said “I agree a lot with Baltimore County's delay in reopening. I think my biggest concern is really making sure that student's individualized special educational needs.”

Badwi is no stranger to online learning. She plans to finish up her studies early to make time for an internship on Capitol Hill before graduating with her class next spring.

“For a lot of students it's really, really hitting them hard. It’s a huge adjustment all around. It’s not just a couple students who are struggling with this, so hopefully things will get better,” Badwi said.

There was a learning curve for both students and teachers after Maryland schools made the switch to distance learning in march. Lynn remembers the spring semester didn't quite make the grade.

“We had assignments, and we were given those assignments. There were directions on there but there weren't clear directions on there. The only time we would have Zoom calls was if we had a coach class, or anything of that nature,” Lynn said.

It's why some students like Procopio are eager to get back inside a classroom this fall instead of sitting at home, taking classes on their laptops.

“It was just sending out assignments. So, I didn't feel like I was getting a full learning experience, unlike other counties who may have had online programs, that could offer a synchronous experience online,” Procopio said.

Carroll County schools are deciding whether to welcome students back inside the classroom. It has Procopio with safety on his mind, as much as his studies when he heads back to school.

“I know they're talking about keeping desks farther apart, trying to spread out classrooms as much as they can. I know my county is doing A-day, A-day, B-day, B-day, alternating patterns so that should definitely eliminate the huge crowds that come into schools,” Procopio said.

Meanwhile, most Maryland high school seniors will begin their fall semester at home as they go back to school virtually.

“There's a couple of fears, I mean one, I definitely want to be prepared for college, and I don't know if that will be applicable in this type of unprecedented situation,” Lynn said.

“I’m extremely worried for a lot of other people, and myself included. I think a lot of us might be losing a lot of valuable instruction. I think there will be a big gap between what we should have learned and what we actually do learn,” Badwi said.