The Transition From Remote Learning Back to In Person School

The Bronx Science school building has reopened for all students, but for some, it has marked a start to their first in-person experience of high school.

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Maliha Chowdhury

After the return of in-person learning, students are now getting used to experiencing group work — without having to use their cameras and microphones.

As students groggily woke up on Monday, September 13th, 2021, a realization hit them: they could not study in their cozy beds anymore. The day marked the end of 18 months of remote learning for the majority of of our students, and getting back into the flow of in-person learning has not been an easy task for some of them, especially after the last 18 months of sitting behind a screen for Zoom classes. Waking up five minutes before class and logging into a computer had been the normal high-school experience for Bronx Science students during the pandemic. Suddenly, September 2021 rolled around, and it was back to school, for everyone this time. 

For many, it was a welcome relief to be back with peers and classmates. After many months of waiting to set foot into the building again while also managing all of the Google Classroom assignments and Zoom video meetings, many students felt it to be an adjustment to return to real in-person classrooms. But while some of the returning students from Bronx Science remembered what their school life was like before, sophomores and freshmen were setting foot into newfound territory. 

Most of the current sophomores had never seen what the school had to offer in the form of in-person classes. Meeting their new classmates, teachers, and upperclassmen was done through a computer screen for the past 18 months. Days of having their cameras on, microphones muted except when speaking, and Google Classroom assignments eventually turned into weeks. And before they knew it, their first ever year of high school ended. 

After their last year of middle school conducted remotely, the current ninth graders had yet to experience the in-person opportunities inside the Bronx Science building, and they arrived in the same position as the sophomores. The first day was a bundle of many emotions, to say the least. 

The new environment that students encountered in September 2021 spurred various impressions of the school building overall. Bronx Science is, after all, a big school. 

“I was really overwhelmed at first because everything was really new to me,” said Leslie Chiu ’24. “I’d never been in a school that had so many students or was so big.” 

Eric Coleman ’25 also expressed his thoughts on the school’s layout. “I love how big the building is,” he said. “It’s pretty easy and simple to navigate thanks to the signs in the halls. I’ve also begun to learn the layout, and I can find my way around easily.”

Granted, adjusting to a normal day of school was not easy for anyone at first. Students transitioned from the enclosed space of their homes to a more open environment at Bronx Science. However, quarantine at home had some conflicting impacts upon students. 

When asked about an initial reaction to the virtual learning shift, Nishat Kabir ’25 replied, “I genuinely thought it was going to be easy and smooth sailing. My internet connection was good and a few days prior to school going fully remote in March 2020, my teachers discussed the possibility that we might go remote.” 

For some students however, virtual school was a nuisance to many aspects of their lives. Having their social lives curtailed would take a toll on many high school students. 

“Everyone was fully prepared for the technical aspect, yet we were far from anticipating the emotional toll we would encounter,” said Kabir. Suddenly, going back to in-person school, away from the rigors of quarantine, acted more as a savior for many students. 

Coleman expressed his own thoughts on virtual learning and how it impacted his work ethic as a whole. He stated that his loss of motivation originated from virtual learning and at first, he found it difficult to get motivated for in-person learning as well. He added, “But in-person learning is slowly helping me to regain my motivation to study and to work harder.”

Sophomores had an amazing time, spending time with one another during the Sophomore Social. (Maliha Chowdhury)

“In no way, shape, or form, did I like remote learning better,” Kaci Rose Goldberg ’24 said, with amusement. “Being at home 24/7 felt really strange. It was almost like I was in house arrest, surrounded by the same four walls for a year and a half.” Goldberg also mentions how being back in school has improved her mental-health tremendously. She explains how socializing with classmates and copying notes during classes in school had made her thrilled to come to school every day. 

Fortunately, the sophomores and ninth graders don’t have to go through the transition from remote to in-person schooling alone. Many supportive teachers and guidance counselors wish to do anything in their power to help our new students adjust to the in-person 2021-2022 academic year. 

Ms. Katherine Carr, a chemistry teacher, commented on how she has been helping students with the transition. She explained that she understands the challenges students might face due to the transition and discussed how she will help them in her classroom. She also commented on how she encouraged her students to share their experiences with remote-learning in order to create a comfortable learning environment in-person. “My goal was to create a classroom environment where students felt comfortable talking about how in-person learning is going for them and feel that the classroom is a space where they can share opinions and feedback about their learning.” 

Students are beginning to envelop themselves in the numerous extracurriculars offered at Bronx Science. (Maliha Chowdhury)

In fact, the immense support from the welcoming Bronx Science staff was greatly appreciated by the new students. Consequently, the ninth and tenth graders felt more comfortable asking questions and for advice. Shelly Yang ’24 said, “The Bronx Science faculty takes the time to ensure that we understand the subjects they teach both through their classes and through their SGI office hours.” She then noted how attending school in-person has helped her to form connections with her teachers better than she was able to during the remote learning period over a Zoom screen. 

As the school year progresses further, ninth and tenth graders are easing into the routine.

“Everyone was fully prepared for the technical aspect, yet we were far from anticipating the emotional toll that we would encounter,” said Nishat Kabir ’25.

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