Tegan Hood and Ixchel Avila were starting this year as freshmen when their high schools (Etowah and Woodstock) closed down due to the number of coronavirus cases among the students and staff.
“We got the news in seventh period,” said Tegan Hood, Woodstock High School student. “It was like in the first ten, fifteen minutes of class. My seventh period is small–there were only nine of us in there. We were all on our phones and chatting, like a normal day, when the intercom came on. And as soon as the principal started talking, I think we all kind of knew what was happening.”
“As my first reaction, I was honestly really bummed out! I was looking forward to my freshman year in person,” commented Ixchel Avila, Etowah High School student. “I didn’t think we were going to stay open the whole time, but I thought we would last at least a little bit longer.”
Etowah High School closed last Tuesday, Aug. 11, only a week after the first day of school. The next day, Woodstock High School also closed. According to the email sent out by the CCSD Chief Communications Officer, both schools had 14 positive cases as of when the school shut down. Creekview High School also closed the following Sunday with 25 total cases.
“The thing I miss the most is my friends, of course,” Ixchel said. “But I also miss the interactions with the teachers and getting to ask them questions. I mean, you can always email them, but it’s not immediate. It’s more different than you’d think.”
Both Woodstock, Etowah, and now Creekview have started schoolwork again via digital learning. They’ve been using a block schedule by doing half of their classes for an extended hour on one day, and the remaining classes the next, also for an extra hour.
Although both students acknowledged that the new schedule is better than in March, they both preferred in-school classes much more.
“I feel that if the coaches had encouraged their team to wear masks during school, then other people would’ve seen our athletes wear masks and they also would’ve worn a mask,” Ixchel added. “When you see other people doing something, you want to do it, too. I still think we would’ve closed down, but I feel like masks would have slowed our numbers a bit.”
Even if not everyone is wearing a mask, more people are social distancing now. Students at Cherokee remarked that people have started taking the less trafficked routes to their classes and staying spread apart. During lunches every other seat has been marked with tape so students can social distance.
“The school did as much as they could to help,” Tegan stated. “And that’s what matters.”