Back to “Normal”

Although students knew social distancing would affect their daily school life, many did not realize how much of an impact the guidelines would have.


photo by Evelyn Weithorn

The half-empty hallways around NASH remind students of just how different this school year is.

Evelyn Wiethorn, Staff Writer

As the fleeting days of summer started to wind down, students looked forward to returning to their normal school routine. The thought of waking up to a 6:00 am blaring alarm seemed oddly refreshing for students who haven’t been to school in six months. 

“It’s a nice change waking up at 6 am two times a week. I feel more productive and I’m not as tired as I am when I went to school full time. It’s a good mix compared to how online school was in the spring where most people woke up at 10 or 11.” said junior Nikki Crean.

However, when students arrived at school on September 8th, they didn’t find the familiar crowded halls. Instead, they found themselves sitting in half-empty classrooms with an awkward lingering silence in the air.

“After the first day, I was very surprised to find how different school was. No one would talk in my classes because of the distance between the desks,” said junior Carolyn Mole, a student in Cohort 2. 

North Allegheny’s COVID-19 guidelines have made it difficult for students to connect with their peers as they did in years prior. With students divided into a two cohort system, many students are finding themselves missing the one thing they loved about school — their friends. 

“I was disappointed when North Allegheny announced that they were separating us,” junior Ana Donaldson said. “The majority of my friends are in Cohort 2, and I hardly ever see them anymore.”

A typical school day pre-COVID involved attending class with the expectation that students would soon be reunited with their friends, even if only for a quick wave in the hallway. With the onset of COVID restrictions, such welcomed breaks from the drudgery of classes have all but been eliminated. Because of mandatory mask-wearing, a smile appears the same as a frown and the warmth of seeing a friendly face in the hallway has disappeared. 

Although the guidelines appear to pose challenges to students, some find themselves unphased by the matter.  North Allegheny’s opinions on the controversial guidelines in school are as varied as the students themselves.

“While online is harder for me to stay engaged with my classes, in person, the only real difference I’ve noticed is class size.” said junior Mac Ingram.

One alternative to hybrid learning at North Allegheny is NACA. The North Allegheny Cyber Academy lets students participate in school in a solely online atmosphere. NACA allows a smoother transition to in-person learning, with the curriculum being synchronous to Cohort 2. While working remotely has left students feeling discounted during the 2019-2020 school year, NACA’s live classes attempt to bridge the gap between the students and the classroom. 

Marissa Granite, a NACA student, has been largely satisfied with the remote experience thus far.

“I’ve enjoyed doing school from home with NACA,” Granite said. “Though I wish I could be at school learning in-person, it felt safer to stay at home. I still am able to form relationships with my teachers and classmates, which is really nice. The only thing I miss is having my electives in-person and seeing friends. It does feel like I am separated from my friends as I’m not at school with them everyday like we normally are.” 

As the COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines are constantly changing, no one knows what the future of school holds. As for students at North Allegheny, they can only hope that the decisions the district makes take into consideration the emotional as well as the educational needs of the students affected.