My first day on campus since the pandemic

On Monday, April 12th, Bonita Vista High (BVH) welcomed students to campus for the first time in over a year for hybrid learning. Senior Madison Geering was one student that attended this first day of hybrid learning, labeling it as an anticlimactic experience. (Madison Geering )

The first thing I noticed was the quiet. Before distance learning, the halls of Bonita Vista High (BVH) echoed with the voices of over 2000 students and teachers. During distance learning, I attended classes in my home, which was filled with adorable, loud children. 

On my first day of hybrid learning, the absence of noise was strange.

As I entered through the gate by Bolles Theatre, I was greeted by staff members who conducted a health screening. I was asked a long series of screening questions, and my temperature was taken with an infrared thermometerthe one that looks like it’s straight out of a dystopian novel. 

Tucking my hands into the folds of my sweater, I followed the blue and yellow traffic flow stickers on the concrete, directing me toward the quad. Although the email I had received about the reopening instructed me to follow the arrows, staff and students alike seemed to view them as mere suggestions.

All around me, students hesitantly roamed the campus, as if they were trying to remember where everything wasI had certainly forgotten. Although, there were some students who were genuinely new to the campus.

As I interviewed a few individuals for the Crusader, I found myself talking to a transfer student, who was experiencing both her first day on campus and her first day at BVH. 

Her biggest fear was being alone on her first day.

That sentiment was something that the student body shared with her, I discovered, as my peers approached me throughout the day. Eyes crinkling above their masks, I knew they were smiling in recognition of a familiar face in the unfamiliar territory of hybrid learning.

Hybrid learning, to put it simply, lives up to its name. It’s distance learning but on campus. ”

— Madison Geering

It was Monday, meaning that I had my first, third, fifth and seventh period. Ironically, only my seventh period teacher was on campus. This meant that I would spend my first period in the cafeteria on my laptop, my third period in the quad on my laptop and my fifth period in a random classroom on my laptop.

Basically, it was glorified distance learning. Nothing new. It was nice to see some familiar faces, but it wasn’t the ‘grand reopening’ many Barons may have imagined.

Blue and gold balloons hung limply around campus beside similarly colored streamers. A few “WELCOME BACK!” posters fluttered in the empty hallways as I walked to my seventh period classroom under the gray sky.

When I finally reached the classroom, I took my seat and greeted Speech, Communication & Theatre teacher Eric Helle and the one other student in the classroom. “Weird” is the first word that comes to mind when describing what it’s like to see teachers and students in-person after a year of seeing them through the screen.

While Helle instructed live, I had my headphones plugged in. I was a little dazed by the experience of hearing him speaking in the room and through the call simultaneously. There was also the awkward struggle of having him mute his microphone when I addressed the class. Otherwise, there would be a painful echo for everyone on the call.

When I got home, my parents eagerly asked me how my first day back was. I took a moment to reflect on the day. It was exciting to be on campus, but was it the grand reopening that was promised in the many emails and promotional videos I was sent?

Not really. And that isn’t a bad thing. Being back on campus is a great first step, but it’s not that different from how school has been in the past year. 

Hybrid learning, to put it simply, lives up to its name. It’s distance learning but on campus. 

Although it’s not entirely different from the daily video calls we have grown accustomed to, hybrid learning foreshadows what may occur next fall for students attending BVH. Despite my experience, however, I still believe it’s important to have this hybrid learning period.

After a year online, everyone—staff and students alike—are in need of a transition period in order to adjust to what has been dubbed “the new normal.”