Wake County Schools

Distracted and lonely, many Wake high school students want to return to class

Posted November 11, 2020 1:46 p.m. EST

— The possibility of returning to class at least part time next semester is a sign of hope in what has been, for many Wake County high school students, a frustrating school year.

Wake County Public School System administrators have recommended that high school students start in January rotating through one week of in-person class and two weeks of remote learning. The school board is expected to vote on the plan next week.

High school students have been taking all of their classes online since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, while younger students have recently returned to class. Middle school students started the three-week rotation of classroom and remote learning this week, while most elementary school students will shift to full-time in-person instruction next Monday after a month in the three-week rotation.

Daniel Baker, a South Garner High School senior, said online classes pose many problems for him and his classmates.

"When you're in your home, focusing ... just gets harder because it's not a work environment. It's a lot more easy to get distracted," Baker said. "I haven't been keeping up very well. I've heard a lot of complaints from other students that teachers are giving out too many assignments."

"Going to school would be a lot better than virtual learning," agreed Mikey Carew, a Rolesville High School junior. "It is very easy to procrastinate and get sidetracked at home. They are definitely holding me accountable, but I’m falling behind on a few assignments right now."

Families in Facebook groups have been vocal about the learning process in the school district's Virtual Academy, which both Baker and Carew attend.

“My senior really wants to be able to go to school before she graduates," parent Jennie Sharda posted.

Parent Bekah Brown said her ninth-grader was doing well with online classes

“I can finally do my work without everyone distracting me,” Brown said her child told her.

But Baker and Carew said that, in addition to motivation problems, they also miss the daily interactions with teachers and classmates.

"The social environment, you don’t really get that online. It’s really just the teachers saying what they need to say [over] Google Meet," Carew said. "In class, you can be like, talk to the person next to you, 'Hey, how do you do this?' You don’t really get that.”

School district administrators say live instruction will be provided in each environment at every level next semester, including the Virtual Academy, where some students want real-time help.

"I definitely miss seeing my friends – seeing my friends in real life – because I live really far away from them," Baker said.

Since it reopened schools to students, the Wake County Public School System has reported fewer than 30 coronavirus infections. Still, the students said they aren't optimistic about their chances of returning and staying in class through the end of the school year.

"I would love to go back to school, but I completely understand why we wouldn’t, to not spread the virus," Carew said.

"I still don't exactly feel safe going to school. I have a lot of people in my family that are vulnerable to COVID, and that's just not a risk I want to take personally," Baker said. "We just need to find a way to get a vaccine out so we can go back to school – the way things used to be."

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