“It’s different!” said 8th grader Tommy Jordan, when asked how it felt to be inside a classroom after ending 7th grade with several weeks of remote learning.
All Catholic schools in the city reopened Wednesday with in-person learning, marking the first time students were able to sit in classrooms since the coronavirus crisis erupted in March. While the first day of school is always filled with anxiety, concerns about COVID-19 added a new element of stress.
“I want to sit with my best friends,” said one 8th grader, “but they’re like 6 feet apart. Six feet apart. They’re like, ‘No, no, no. You can’t do anything, you can’t do anything.’ It’s very confined. I’d rather be home than have the masks and see my friends and teacher.”
“I think he’s overreacting,” said the boy’s mother, Lena Zvreva of Rego Park, to her son. “I hope it’s better to be with your friends face to face than just seeing them remotely."
Some parents at Resurrection Ascension Catholic Academy say, with coronavirus cases down significantly, sending their child back to the classroom offered more benefits than remote learning.
The school’s principal, Joanne Heppt, says 40 students will attend school remotely and the remaining 240 students will attend class in person five days a week.
Heppt expressed confidence that students and staff will be safe, thanks to health protocols, including requirements that everyone wear a mask and practice social distancing.
"I think today went very well!” said Heppt. “We just brought in our 6th, 7th, 8th graders to start for the first day. We did temp checks in the morning, parents sent in health screenings, and everything went smoothly!”
To reduce the risk of the virus spreading, classes at the academy have been divided in half, and many classrooms will have have no more than ten students, all sitting six feet apart.
Students at the academy were also able to take short mask breaks, as needed, where they were allowed to pull their mask off when they were in their seat and not speaking.
However, some students said they were OK keeping their masks on.
“I didn’t take off my mask because, honestly, I feel comfortable with it anyways on,” said a 6th grader named Joseph.
“With the virus or not. I kinda like it,” he added.
All of these students earned high marks for getting used to a new way of going to school.