Students return to school for full in-person learning

After a year of virtual classes, Highlander students are enthusiastic about the new school year


Kaan Kocabal

McLean students gather for lunch time where they see their friends and take a break from class. A lunch is a very packed lunch due to many students being very hungry and eager to eat.

School has finally returned in person.

Many seniors and juniors have not attended school in-person for over a year. Sophomores are finally experiencing their first proper year of high school. Students and teachers alike are fired up and ready to begin the school year.

“School has already been so much fun,” sophomore Zara Hasan said. “It has been a blast being back in school.”

Hasan, like the rest of her class, has not yet completed a fully in-person high school year due to her mostly virtual freshman year.

“I came to the school last year in person towards the end of the year,” Hasan said. “But it was nothing like this.”

In order for school to stay in person for the entire year, everyone must follow more stringent rules than in previous years. Students and teachers must wear masks and maintain have some space between them. Those who start feeling sick must self-isolate until they are clear to come back to school.

“There are so many people in the hallways and it does sometimes worry me that there may be an outbreak with COVID,” Hasan said. “But with how the school is controlling the spread, I don’t think about it much and go with my day.”

Students walk to class between classes through the packed hallways.

Other students are also rejoicing at the chance to interact with peers and teachers in-person.

“It honestly feels really good to be back at school,” senior Brennen Sumida said. “After not being in school for my junior year, I was worried that I would not experience my senior year, but that was not the case.”

While the Class of 2021 spent the majority of their senior year online, thanks to widespread vaccinations and safety protocols being followed in Fairfax County, the Class of 2022 will likely be able to live out their senior year in all its traditional glory.

“I am really glad that we are back in school just in time for my senior year,” Sumida said. “I feel like if we would have gone virtual again, then going to college after being in-school as a sophomore would have been a massive leap.”

Many are disappointed about the time they lost staying online. When students all attended school in-person together before the pandemic, juniors and seniors were underclassmen and freshmen and sophomores were still in middle school.

“Being a senior does feel weird because the last time I was in school I was just a sophomore,” Sumida said. “Time flew by really quickly and I wish it had not sometimes.”

Despite having a previously bitter high school experience, students like Sumida are still moving forward with a positive outlook on the year.

“I hope that the rest of the year goes smoothly,” Sumida said. “Hopefully COVID doesn’t shut schools down again so that [me and] other seniors have our one last fun [year] in high school before college.”