Students Debate: Does In-Person School Truly Reduce Pandemic-Related Isolation?


Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Paula Zhuang

NORTH PROVIDENCE, RI — From social gathering limits to required quarantining, COVID-19 has overturned the normal social lives of high school students. One of the arguments in favor of physically opening schools was that students could hang out with their peers. But does in-person education really alleviate feelings of isolation?

Alyashanti Green, a senior at North Providence High School, votes in the affirmative. She explains, “At the start of quarantine, I was fine with isolation, but then it got too much. Being in school allows me to be in an environment that’s not just my thoughts.”

Junior Kiara Medeiros disagrees, emphasizing the alienating reality of having to sit behind a screen every other day. She does not think in-person school does much to help this issue, stating, “This pandemic and going back and forth between in-person school and distance learning has made me feel the most isolated I have ever felt. . . . Being behind a screen all day has created a big disconnect between my teachers, friends, and even my loved ones at home. . . . I feel these struggles are not really vocalized at our school, so that adds to the overall isolation.”

Another junior, Stephen Sequira, also does not equate in-person learning with fewer feelings of isolation. However, he thinks physically being with classmates “makes cooperation and teamwork more accessible.”

For freshman Stephanie Jordan, in-person school has assisted with isolation. She highlights bonding experiences that can only occur in a physical environment, such as a friend guiding her to classes.

It’s clear that NPHS students have varying opinions on the issue of hybrid learning and isolation.