Sophomores Return to School After Year of Virtual Learning


Eshaan Chopra

Hibah Ahmed ’24 is dealing with the true experience of Westwood for the first time along with the rest of her grade. Returning from virtual school has been difficult for many, but as school continues, students are adjusting to the circumstances. “I’m on more of a schedule now, so it’s a lot easier to get through things,” Ahmed said.

After a year of online classrooms, virtual conversations, and minimal social interactions, many sophomores are experiencing Westwood for the first time as school returns in-person. For the inexperienced former freshman, navigating the complexities of the building, including confusing room numbers, Flex systems, and ongoing construction, has been difficult. However, as the beginning of the school year continues, sophomores are finally starting to understand the ins and outs of Westwood.

“I thought it would be a big, shocking experience and a lot of anxiety, but it ended up being like I fit right back in. I feel like [with] online school, you could sleep through it and you can’t focus, but now I can actually learn,” Hibah Ahmed ‘24 said.

With the RRISD-issued mask mandate, recognizing friends and meeting new people has become a little more problematic, but sophomores prefer the limited social contact to completely virtual connections.

“I can know people now. People can identify me with my forehead,” Ahmed said.

Coming back to school in person has drastically changed the daily routines of some sophomores, especially since the pandemic has increased the need for caution and safety.

“This year, I have to go home and shower everyday. I feel like I have to stay as clean as I can. I have to wash my masks. A lot of cleanliness has been added to my schedule,” Ahmed said.

Even with many added precautions, many sophomores have been looking forward to the start of in-person learning.

“I was actually really excited about getting to be in-person again,” Brooke Xu ‘24 said. “I thought that virtual school was definitely easier when it came to work load. But, I didn’t really get to see my friends or teachers. That’s what I like the most about in-person school.”

 In online classrooms, students had a hard time interacting with their teachers, and sophomores are eager for the chance to engage with their high school teachers more personally for the first time.

“This year I really like my teachers. Of course, I don’t know them that well, but they all seem nice. I feel like I get to connect with them more, now that it’s in-person,” Xu said.

While most students have enjoyed some of the conveniences of learning from home, many have slowly realized the advantages of learning in a physical classroom.

“It’s more comfortable at home, since it’s my house, but I do like coming to school,” Xu said.

This transition back into the normal school routine has been an adjustment for many sophomores. Meeting new teachers, finding their way around school, and reconnecting with friends is all part of returning to a normal, in-person education.