It’s been a few weeks since the majority of high school students in San Diego have returned to school in person, and reactions are, unsurprisingly, mixed. For the most part though, conversations about masks and vaccines are far from the front of students’ minds.
“Do I feel prepared? Mostly. I know it’s going to be new, but I’m pretty excited for it,” said Emi, who recently started her freshman year at Canyon Crest Academy after having spent the majority of her time in middle school online. “I think that if I was starting last year I would be kind of disappointed, but so far it seems like things will be as normal as they can be, just with masks.”
Both San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) have reopened five days a week for in person schooling. After such a turbulent year, administrators seem to be putting an emphasis on keeping students connected to both their school and their peers.
Rida, a transfer student from Washington who is attending Torrey Pines High School for her senior year, says that administrators have helped alert her to opportunities to engage with the school community.
“Every single day, at least one of my teachers has been like, ‘Oh, there’s this program called PALs [Peer Assisted Listeners] and they invite transfer students to get to know each other,’” Rida said. “So they’ve definitely been really good about that.”
As it stands, the general rule for SDUHSD students is that mask-wearing is enforced indoors but not outside. This means that at lunch time, most Torrey Pines students can be found congregating at the campus’s outdoor lunch tables or the grassy common areas, enjoying their break with masks off and putting them back on once they return to the classroom.
“I definitely agree with the mask policy, because not everyone can get vaccinated. Overall, it’s just safety protocol, you don’t know who someone is living with that can be at risk. You might be okay, but they might not be,” Rida said.
For some, the odd circumstances of the reopening help to level the playing field with regard to feeling out of place.
“It’s kind of nice that [the freshman class] won’t be the only brand new year; the sophomores will be sort of new also,” Emi said.
Many outlooks around campus are similarly optimistic as students look forward to a new year and a fresh start.