Utica Community Schools plans face-to-face return

Students react to district announcement

Brooklynn Hathcock, Digital Editor in Chief

After learning remotely since Michigan closed schools in March, it was announced that students and staff will slowly be brought back into schools for face-to-face learning.

While kindergarten and first grade students returned this week, secondary students learned that they will be back in their classrooms beginning Nov. 9.

“To begin this transition, students will be in school for two full days of school each week through a cohort group of students,” principal Thomas Lietz said. “By pairing students in cohort groups, we are able to manage the interactions between students and mitigate any potential spread of COVID-19. In addition, we are increasing the number of lunch hours each day to five different sessions.”

Despite these details, many students were left with more questions than answers.

“I am very excited to go back and meet new people, but school will not be the same especially since we will only be there for two days and see half the class,” sophomore Savannah Ruiz said. “I also think the health code rules will be very strict as well so it will take a lot of interaction away such as hugging friends and high-fives, which I find fun.”

On Oct. 13, UCS announced its plan to return students to schools, utilizing a hybrid plan. (UCS)

Everything is up in the air with how the day will work, new rules and protocols will be established, new ways of walking through the halls, how we will interact with each other, new lunches, and just about everything else.

“I have been enjoying being remote because it is nice to just wake up and go straight to school,” junior Marissa Barch said. “It will be nice to start going back because I miss seeing my friends but I don’t any class with them… so I’m not that excited.”

In an email sent from Interim Superintendent Robert Monroe, he gives a brief explanation on different aspects of how the year will look.

“With a global pandemic underway,” Monroe wrote, “the safety of your child and your child’s teacher is something we take seriously.”

Monroe also acknowledged the many concerns expressed by the community.

“UCS reflects our country: Some feel we are moving too quickly; others feel we are much too slow,” Monroe said in his letter. “Regardless of where people stand, and we listen to all perspectives, our commitment is to have all students back in the classroom, but only when a safe and positive learning environment can occur.”

While students are anxiously awaiting details, many are already looking forward to the return.

“I’m excited but very nervous. I feel like I’ll take a while to get use to just like it did for online,” sophomore Olivia Barel said. “I can’t wait to meet new people and actually get to sit in a class face to face.”

Some students, however, are worried about safety protocols.

Not sitting next to our friends in class or during lunch, not even writing on paper–it won’t feel like how it was before.

— junior Oliva Pinto

“Personally, I am very concerned with my dad getting sick. He is at a higher risk than the rest of my family, ” senior Annie Droelle said. “I’m worried about his health way more than I am worried about going back to school.”

Still others are wondering if they can remain remote, working from home, since they have adjusted well to the change.

“While going back to school is what we all want, I am nervous that the changes will be a greater hassle than just remaining remote,” junior Oliva Pinto said. “Not sitting next to our friends in class or during lunch, not even writing on paper–it won’t feel like how it was before.”