After months of remote learning, a year of in-person-but-not-quite-stable hybrid school and a fall semester that was just beginning to feel kind of normal, Kyla Chester-Hopkins, a high school junior in Milwaukee, learned that she had Covid-19.
Kyla, 16, was deeply anxious about spreading it to her family members. She worried that she had infected her best friend. So in early January, she stopped going to school and returned to learning online — stuck, once again, in the bedroom where she had already spent so much of 2020.
Back then, she was home with her father and four siblings, all but one of whom — her baby brother — relied on the same Wi-Fi connection to work and learn. Missing art class most of all, she pulled out her acrylic paints to make murals that sprawled across her bedroom walls and ceiling. She returned to school in the fall of 2020, but it was hybrid at the time, and most of her classmates were not there.
Her junior year has been better. Kyla recovered from her bout of Covid this month and is now back in class. But she feels that the instability of her freshman and sophomore years is not over yet, and she is always cautious.
switched schools or dropped out altogether.
And while most are back in class today, a sense of profound isolation persists. There are feelings of loneliness and angst. Many students feel that an entire system has failed them, leaving them to take on additional responsibilities far beyond what is typically asked of young people.
day-by-day basis as they struggled with staff shortages and the rising number of cases.
Graham Bevel, 8, a third grader there, was one of the many students who had to pause in-person learning and return, temporarily, to virtual classes in recent weeks. He and his 5-year-old sister went back to the old routine: doing schoolwork together as their parents watched.
“I’m just fine with it,” he said. “I’m sort of used to it by now.”
And though Graham has his model trains and a “Harry Potter” book to keep him busy at home, he has been much happier going to class and seeing his friends again. “I missed them,” he said.