Student Feelings: Returning to In-Person School


Malin Just, Falcon Post Staff

News of a return to in-person school echoed through the virtual hallways as teachers, administrators, and students from all grade levels expressed mixed feelings about what this would mean for them. Most were concerned about safety precautions and displayed a general distrust of their peers’ ability to abide by pandemic procedures. Please be informed that this survey was administered prior to the release and passing of the official return to in-person instruction plan from DPS, so the responses may not reflect the most current student body feelings.

When asked about the quality of their online education, 82.4% of surveyed students said they felt that they were not getting the same quality education as they were when school was taught in-person. With a 31%* increase in the number of high school students failing at least one class during the pandemic, it is clear that a return to in-person education would make a vast difference for some students’ education. However, it can’t be overlooked that nearly 16.7% of respondents said that they actually preferred online classes, or had no preference, even if COVID-19 was no longer a concern. For most students, though, in-person classes are still the ideal way of learning.

20.4% of students who took the survey answered that, during pandemic conditions, they would rather attend in-person school than online-school. However, when asked whether or not they felt it was a good idea to return to in-person learning, only 14.7% answered that they thought it was a good idea. This means that some students who indicated that they would rather attend in-person schooling during the pandemic later answered that they thought returning to school within the next month was not a good idea. A possible explanation for this is that those students did not consider disease safety into their consideration of whether they would rather be online or in-person during the pandemic. 

According to the survey results, only 14.7% of respondents answered that they would feel safe on campus, 63.7% answered that they would not feel safe returning to campus and another 21.6% were not sure. 

Students who felt uncomfortable returning to in-person learning were then given an opportunity to share some ideas that would make them feel more comfortable. A few answers seemed to repeat themselves. Many requested regulations and enforceable punishments for incorrect mask wearing and social distancing as well as getting those who would be in the school vaccinated. Others wrote that they did not think there was a way to safely return to in-person classes. Another portion of responses asked for better and more diligent cleaning and offered some words of appreciation to the janitorial staff. The most frequent suggestion was to break up the student body into cohorts and for DPS to allow students to choose whether they would come back or stay online. Fortunately, most of these respondents had their wishes granted by the DPS plan. Some responses, however, offered unique ideas, such as having class outdoors when possible or leaving doors open to allow airflow, putting plexi-glass dividers between desks, and allowing students with the right graduation credits to graduate early. A rather large portion of responses expressed deep distrust in their peers’ ability to properly adhere to the rules, some even naming the individuals they didn’t trust. It is clear that the return to in-person schooling is a red hot discussion. 

With the new plan from DPS now published, students are making their decision on whether to return or remain online based on new information. With DPS’s plan resolving many students’ safety concerns, the matter is now one of whether or not the format for in-person learning will actually improve the quality of their education the way it was supposed to.



Data used to calculate the 31% increase in high school students failing at least one class came from the linked article: “Durham students failing, leaving district during COVID pandemic” by Charlie Innis.