Pandemic raging, school starting: What do students think? Some answers, some surprises


Editor’s note: Those quoted in this story with the last name Crowder, is WAVY Anchor Don Roberts’ grandchild. Their thoughts are their own.

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — We’ve heard a lot of adults talk about various plans to reopen schools during the pandemic.

Administrators, teachers, staffers and parents have all weighed in about in-person classes mixing with online learning at home — all while keeping everyone safe.

But what about students? WAVY News 10’s Don Roberts talked with several via Zoom, ranging in age from elementary to high school and from across the Virginia Peninsula.

First question:  “What are your thoughts as we get closer to the start of school?”

“I am really excited, but I am sad that they did cancel football up here in York County,” said Liam Wayne, a rising sophmore at Tabb High.

His little sister was by his side, staring at him while waiting for her turn to say something important.

Ready to go back?

“Yes, ’cause I miss my friends,” said his sister, a soon-to-be-official second-grader at Seaford Elementary. “It’s going to be hard to talk to your friends with a mask on.”

The mask. It looks like it will be standard equipment for many students returning to schools in Hampton Roads. Big brother Liam knows he’s got to deal with the safety protocols.

“Yeah, I am concerned, like, obviously you need a mask… but, it’s gonna get hard to breathe in that mask for eight hours a day, five days a week.”

Eleven-year-old Sasha Crowder of Newport News can’t wait to start her first year in middle school.

“I look forward to seeing my friends again, but I believe that my life matters first.”

Sasha and her older brother by two years, Donovan, both suffer from allergies that restrict their diets and play. And, now, there’s another limitation: COVID-19.

“Putting kids in danger, just to go back to school, instead of concern about the kids’ health is very, it’s a problem,” Donovan said.

Sasha said “I wouldn’t wanna contract the virus and bring it to my family.”

Warhill High student Charles Willon says he’s thought long about mask-wearing.

“Yeah, That’s going to be hard,” he said. “‘Cause it’s gonna be scary, because, no one distances themselves during school.”

Mask-wearing and social distancing were not big concerns with former Hampton High volleyball player Serenity Parker. She said she’s been outdoors, busy, the past several weeks, practicing and traveling with her summer league team.

“Actually it wasn’t too bad, for the players, at least.”

Did anyone get sick with the coronavirus?

“Um, no, not that I know of,” Serenity said.

Serenity is hoping to play with Phoebus High’s squad this year — assuming they have a team.

Serenity is a bit nervous about the various back-to-school plans that administrators are working out.
The rising eleventh-grader is not too crazy about staring at a computer for hours on end.

“For me, I don’t really like the online learning for all of the stuff. I wouldn’t mind it for homework or whatever. But having to do all the classes … it’s kind of difficult.”

Liam and Savannah’s dad is having difficulty with the idea of his children actually going to school with hundreds of other students.

Art Wayne works for a local shipyard and, yes, he knows of several coworkers who’ve come down with the virus.

“One of our associates is home. he’s quarantined. It’s getting close to home now, so we’re all a little concerned. We try to talk about [it] and not make the kids too nervous about it.”

And if the students go to school, what will they bring home?

“I don’t know how many people go to Tabb High… I’m pretty sure it’s probably a thousand or more… How are we going to make sure those kids remain safe? Are they gonna temperature [check] them every day? What happens if their teacher gets it? Will we have to quarantine? I just don’t understand the process of how we’re going to handle all that.”

Art Wayne, and probably every other parent of a public school student in Hampton Roads, will get some answers from school officials soon. Meanwhile, they all hope the tense, stress-filled, wait for “the plan,” the start of school, and even a vaccine, won’t make them as sick as the virus.  

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