Plenty of schools surveyed staff and parents over the past several months, asking about e-learning challenges and seeking suggestions going into the new COVID-affected school year.
Schools don’t as often ask the students themselves, especially younger kids. The West Aurora School District did ask its students, from Pre-K all the way through high school, how they felt about schools being closed.
“Is it just me, or do you guys get distracted a TON???," wrote one student. "When we're in school, there’s literally nothing else to do. But I'm sitting here hearing the kids in my house playing. FRUSTRATING."
That’s a response from an elementary school student. They offered the most feedback by far, more than 1,700 thoughts.
Most often, they felt sad and missed their friends and teachers. They were disappointed but often talked about how important it is to stay safe.
Many wrote about having a hard time finishing their work, while others were just happy to sleep in and eat their own food. They also wrote about wanting to play with friends and missing events.
“I WANT MY FIFTH (sic) GRADE GRADUATION!," said another elementary school student. "If a teacher or something is reading this, please make the fifth-grade graduation possible. It would mean a lot."
The comments from kids as young as 5 years old, sometimes struggling to type, reflect the same feelings of anxiety and hope Americans of every age have expressed during the pandemic.
Obtained by WNIJ via the Freedom of Information Act, here are more anonymous thoughts from West Aurora elementary school students answering the question, "How are you feeling about school closures?"
- “Well it’s ok but I would rather be in school. It's important to be in school because you get answers to your questions.”
- “Thank you teachers for setting up our e-learning. It probably isn’t easy. Thank you for everything that you do.”
- “School closures keep us safe by staying home, I don’t have to worry about getting sick.”
- “I feel happy and sad. I like to stay home but I miss all of you.”
- “I think we should have Zoom classes so we can see friends and teachers. I miss my friends and teachers.”
- “I have waited 6 years for my 5th-grade graduation just for it to get canceled! :( I wanted to have fun and win the speech competition and math bowl. It’s important because I worked REALLY hard for both and they got canceled. I wanted to go up there like the 5th graders did last year.”
- “School closing is not easy. I miss my friends and teachers. It is important because it is easier to learn with your teachers and friends instead of at home. My mom teaches us if we need help and can't do it.”
- “I was confused at first with the school being closed, but after my mom explained why I am pleased that the school thought of our health first. I’m happy that all the schools are being cleaned.”
- “E-learning is going good. It was a little hard at first but then it got easier. I got mostly all of my work done. I am really happy about that.”
- “I have nobody to talk to and my friends used to crack me up all the time.”
- “At first, I was totally happy at the fact of MORE SLEEP! But after a while... never thought I'd say this... I miss school!!! (and my friends of course).”
- “Sometimes it’s difficult doing homework. This happens because sometimes my internet is slow. Also because sometimes I don't understand things.”
- “The good thing about school closure is that you get to spend time with your family. It's important because my dad has two jobs and he is not home a lot but since he is home, he still has to work but gets some time to spend with him.”
- “It is hard being at home. Would rather be at school. Hard to type. Mom is working all the time and she can’t help much. Mom has to work because she needs money. But important to learn too.”
- “I am very sorry for those who had birthdays during this. And I want to let you know that smiles are contagious too so whenever you walk by someone please smile and say hi! And make sure you are doing your homework!”
- “If you ever have a chance to see doctors please thank them because they are working for you and for me and for everyone. Like my Mom. She is a respiratory therapist. She works night shifts 12 hours a night! That’s a lot! She is very tired every day. Which is tough! Wouldn’t you be? Thx”
- “I feel like we are not really learning. Because my teacher on our last zoom call even said "I cannot teach you the new lessons. It would be so hard" It really holds us back. Like I'm in fourth grade but I need to know all the fourth-grade lessons to understand the ones in fifth grade.”
- “What if there is no cure? What if we just have to live with this and we can't do anything?”
- “I keep on submitting my work but not pressing the checkmark twice so I’m doing the work but it’s not submitting for Mrs. Epley to see me doing this or else she thinks I’m skipping the work she provided.”
- “I agree with the person that said they get to eat their own food. The school food is... eh.”
- “The bad news is I’ve been acting up and getting mad. My mom thinks it’s because I’m out of school for so long. The good news is I’ve been getting a little better since yesterday.”
- “So sad that I cried because I miss my friends and my teacher.”
- "Sometimes I am not nice to my sister because something is bothering me. I don't always know what is bothering me. Solution: I will help mom make a calm down corner to help me be calm and kind. I can talk to mom or dad about what is bothering me.”
- “I don’t like 2020, wash your hands.”
- “I really like them, they're great! It's just fun...I don't really know what to say!”
- “I can see the people building the new playground from my backyard, I can see the construction of the new playground and I like to check on it every day. I want to be the first one to play on it.”
- “My poor teacher doesn't get to see his students’ smiles.”
- “I’m so mad I could rip off some metal, I swear I can.”
- “My teacher is doing a good job of sending me work. I can keep learning.”
- “I'm also worried because the future lies in our hands if we don't do the right thing our nation our will fall apart, and children born at this time...will have a hard time living. I think this important because people need to think to watch the news to see how to PREVENT Coronavirus (Covid-19).”