Many all-remote students happy right where they are

Watertown High School is planning on returning to five-day-a-week in-school learning April 26


Raider Times photo / Raider Times photo

There are a number of reasons why some students have chosen to not yet return to in-school learning

Naomi Baker, Raider Times staff

For many students living through the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual learning is their worst nightmare. 

Hours in front of a computer screen, coupled with dropping grades, caused thousands of students and teachers across the nation to wish for a return to the traditional learning environment. Watertown was no exception. While the 2020-2021 school year began with all students remote, it shifted to a hybrid model after three months of online education. According to Watertown High School, about 63 percent of students chose to return to the building in the fall. Still, a select group of teens decided to remain home. Why?

Eden Salley, a sophomore at Watertown High School, made the decision to not to come back for the health and safety of her family. Eden told the Raider Times, “I chose not to return because there’s a high-risk person in my family and I don’t trust certain aspects of the school’s guidelines. If lunch were outside, for example, or if people could not take off their mask at any time to drink things, I would probably be in-person.”

I feel like there is more flexibility, and more comfort because you are in your own home. Like, during class, I can eat and go to the bathroom whenever I want.

— ASHLEY LEAL, WHS sophomore

Eden’s feelings were echoed throughout the statements of some other remote students. When the choice initially had to be made in the fall whether to come back twice a week, students such as sophomores Sandra Alnamous and Nicole Babayan believed the school was not able to combat the spread and chose to stay at home.

On the other hand, some kids, such as Ashley Leal, another WHS sophomore, felt the virtual environment was, in general, a better learning environment. 

Ashley explained, “I like that we have longer breaks in between our classes. I feel like there is more flexibility, and more comfort because you are in your own home. Like, during class, I can eat and go to the bathroom whenever I want.”

As the school inches closer and closer to a full five-day-a-week return April 26, virtual students are being asked to consider returning full time. Some of the 37 percent of the student population that stayed home is sure to return. However, when the Raider Times reached out to some of the teens who are all-remote, asking if they would like to come back for the final quarter of the school year, we received a resounding “No.” 

While a majority of those students said they will feel comfortable returning after the summer, most interviewed either didn’t feel a school was still not a safe environment during a pandemic, or they just genuinely enjoy learning virtually more. 

As WHS junior Mona Houjazy put it, “I can’t ever imagine going back with my lifestyle and routine now, and the only people who are really vaccinated are the teachers, and they’re gonna make us 3 feet apart? That’s COVID waiting to happen.” 

–April 4, 2021–