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Postcards From The Pandemic: Comfortable On Campus In Bay Village Schools

Bay High senior Emma Spirollari sits at her desk, masked and surrounded by a plastic partition. [Emma Spirollari]
Emma Spirollari sits at her desk surrounded by her plastic partition at Bay High School in Bay Village, Ohio.

When the Bay Village City School District re-opened its schools for in-person classes Sept. 14 after starting the year virtually, 17-year-old Emma Spirollari, a senior at Bay High School, opted to return to campus. She didn’t mind remote learning, but she said, being back in the classroom feels more natural, despite the masks and plastic partitions around her desk.

“I think for me, there's some classes in my schedule where I wouldn't really feel a difference if I was online or in person. But then there’s some classes,” said Spirollari, “where I just had them this past week in person and I was like, ‘Oh, wow! This feels so much better. I understand things more clearly when I'm in person.’”

A New On-Campus Normal

I come in at a late arrival, so there's really no one there right as I walk in. But then the bell rings and all the students come out. 

It’s really different because before, I’d be rushing to walk over to my friend or have a chat with anyone. But now I stick as close to the wall as possible. I try to create as much distance between myself and other people in the hallway. 

Some teachers have changed where their classroom is located, trying to get as much room between students as possible. All the windows are open in the classrooms. So I always have to wear a coat, it’s so cold.

The desks are all spaced out. And we have these plastic kind of cubicles around our desks. I had one teacher describe them as like fish tanks — everything's kind of distorted through them. 

Senior Emma Spirollari says being away from campus for so long added to the "inner turmoil" students felt. [Emma Spirollari]

When Is a Sneeze Just a Sneeze?

Anytime someone sneezes or I sneeze, my mind immediately goes, “Well, what could that be? Is that going to spread? Is that COVID?”

Any slightest possibility that there is someone sick, or anything like that, I get so nervous that it could spread so easily,  especially with sports going on and that mixing with other schools. That worries me, because even if I'm, like, being, you know, really safe, maybe someone from another school that someone came in contact with isn't being so safe. 

Comfort In the Classroom

School has been such a major part of every student's life, right? We go in for most of the year and for a majority of the day. And so you get comfortable there. You get comfortable with the building, with your teachers, your peers. 

And having such a long, unexpected break from that, I think caused a lot of inner turmoil in everyone. So being back to some sort of normal makes everyone feel like, “It' s OK, we're gonna get through this together.”