Students, their families, and the community are considering the next steps after Superintendent Debra Kubin’s announcement that on-campus learning will begin on the eighteenth of this month. Ukiah High School will slowly start to open up just shy of one year after shutting down due to the pandemic. Students will not be attending school full time. Instead, their schedules will reflect a carefully constructed hybrid plan, where they will have the choice to either attend their last two classes online or at the physical school. Recently, students completed a survey asking whether they planned to participate in the on-campus opportunity. High school staff members found themselves surprised when forty-seven percent of students voted no. UHS News staff interviewed two students, hoping to uncover why our school’s Wildcats voted as they did.
According to Roman LaBrash, a freshman, “I said that I did not want to go back.” When asked why not, he said, “It is way more convenient for me to be at my house.” He added that “I have way more resources available to me without having to worry about going from class to class. I can just open my computer and go to Zoom in a matter of ten seconds.” He also said, “I can get ahold of teachers a lot easier because it’s all online.” LaBrash believes that many of those who “…want to go back want to see their friends.” He then elaborated on his feelings about the matter, saying, “I see my friends enough in quarantine to where I’m totally happy.” He admitted that “They might not, or maybe Zoom just isn’t working for them. It’s different for everyone.” When asked what would have to happen to change his mind about not going back, LaBrash said, “Maybe for two hours, not for the whole day, and not wearing masks.” He added to this, explaining that “Masks are a huge thing. Why would I want to go to school for a whole day and wear a mask…have to eat inside of a classroom and not be able to see my friends?” LaBrash stated that “It’s just the same as quarantine. It’s just that you’re not inside of your house. It’s not worth it.”
Joel Naranjo, a senior, said that “I did choose to come back to school…” He explained that “I really felt if I stayed any longer in remote learning, I would go crazy.” He confessed that “Last semester, I was doing horrible in school…I had all F’s and very bad attendance.” Naranjo stated that “I totally hated remote learning with a passion.” He remarked that “…As a senior, I really feel as if I want my last year to count. I also really miss seeing friends and being in an actual school.” According to him, “When I heard of the chance of going back, I knew that I had to take it. It’s my last year, and I can’t let it go to waste.” When asked why others may have voted differently than he, Naranjo said, “Maybe they have fears of Covid like the rest of us…Maybe they just don’t have the right mindset of going back to school wearing masks. Maybe the thought of that for others is fear.” When asked what would have to happen for him to change his mind about going back, he said, “It would be that I have a family. I don’t want my little brothers or my mom or dad to get Covid because I decided to go back to school and risk it all.”
Ultimately, Wildcats have adapted to a strange circumstance and as the world emerges from the grip of COVID-19, Wildcats will learn how to return to an in-person world.