On the first day of the 2021-2022 school year, sophomore Kendall Jones hurried to her AP World History class. She scans her surroundings, subconsciously noting the contrast between her rushing to a physical classroom and her frantically clicking to join a Microsoft Teams meeting.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to shut down and engage students through online instruction. Just like thousands of teenagers worldwide, Jones spent the 2020-2021 school year as a virtual student.
“I was always intrigued by students who were homeschooled, so when it was announced that school was going to be virtual, I was really excited to experience it for myself,” Jones said.
Jones established a routine for the first six weeks of virtual learning. However, as weeks went by she felt herself getting bored of the repetitive schedules.
Both Jones’ mother and older sister were part of this demographic as they both tested positive for COVID-19 during the Christmas of 2020. Although minimal, symptoms that her mother and sister experienced left Jones and the rest of her family quarantined for two weeks.
“I was a little freaked out at first because I thought [the virus] would be really bad on my family,” Jones said. “But soon, my mom and sister felt better, and everything was fine. In that time, I felt grateful I was virtual and didn’t play a part in unknowingly spreading the virus to other people.”
Similar to Jones, sophomore Trinity Liles spent her freshman year as a virtual student.
“I liked virtual learning mainly because I felt that I had more freedom and time to do my work at my own pace,” Liles said. “I enjoyed virtual school so much that if I had the choice, I would definitely stay virtual.”
Jones, now an in-person student, continues to take preventative measures in order to reduce the spread of the virus. She spends her time actively participating in Key Club, volunteering at Mansfield Public Library and forming relationships with new people.
“I’m overall happy that I’m now in-person because I am able to experience many new things that I wasn’t able to when I was a virtual student confined in my room,” Jones said.