In recent weeks, many local school districts have announced plans to continue remote learning in the fall in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Ashlyn Knox, an incoming sophomore at Selah High School, was disappointed to learn that she would not be able to return to school in person. Knox says she enjoyed the social aspect of school prior to its closure and has missed interacting with her classmates and teachers on a daily basis.

“It’s just not the same,” she said. “I don’t feel like I get quite as much out of it as I would in person.”

Lost social opportunities aside, Isabelle Ehlis, an incoming sophomore at Davis High School, has concerns from an academic standpoint.

“I really miss learning, the opportunity to learn just as much as I can,” said the Davis student. “That’s been the drive for me for so long. I love going to school. I love learning new things. It just seems like you miss out on so much authentic learning when you’re not there face-to-face.”

However disheartened students are, both Knox and Ehlis acknowledge the safety benefits of going online for their learning this fall.

“It could be good in the fact of continuing to social distance to maybe make things get better,” commented Knox.

Both Knox and Ehlis say they plan to continue working hard and make the most of their online learning experiences, all while hoping to return to school as soon as possible.

In the meantime, Ehlis hopes that COVID-19 ultimately will help bring people closer together.

“I think in this we will be united through our loss,” Ehlis said. “I’m hoping this does something for us, whether it’s as a community or a nation or the world, which would be incredible.”

One of the main factors making distance learning seem so formidable is the unknown of it all. Students have a lot of questions and concerns about the upcoming months of learning. While school staff members have been doing their best to reach out to families, there are some questions that simply cannot be answered until learning has commenced.

Recalling her reaction to the news that school would be starting online, incoming Eisenhower High School sophomore Gabriella Verduzco said: “To be honest, I was disappointed. I am a hands-on learner and it’s hard for me to understand certain things, so it’s better for me [to learn] in person. There are so many students who barely stay focused now, because we have online classes. It will be a lot easier to space out and not pay attention."

Lily DeLozier, also an incoming sophomore at Eisenhower, similarly wonders: "Because it's online, we might not be able to learn as much as we would in the classroom."

Another worry of students is the social aspect of school. For many teens, school is where they meet new friends, talk with others, hear differing opinions and are part of a team. Verduzco, like many other students is disappointed about the lack of sports, which provide activity and camaraderie.

DeLozier said, “I don’t see anyone making friends over Google Meets and I don’t think people would interact the same way as the would in person."

Verduzco also doesn't see herself getting to know other students well this fall, saying: “In class, the teacher would hand out papers, which would give students a chance to talk, or we would work on problems together."

This is a strange time for everybody, and while students may not be happy about distance learning, they understand that everyone is doing their best.

“I think teachers will have to work even harder to find new ways to help us learn,” said DeLozier.

Across our area's schools, students may find that they will have to work harder and stay self-motivated. With all the unknowns and doubts, though, the hope remains with high school students this fall that they will figure this out.

Natalie Keller is an incoming sophomore at Selah High School, and Anabelle Kollman is an incoming sophomore at Eisenhower High School.