Issaquah high school senior shares experience of first day back to in-person learning after more than a year

Thousands of middle and high students stepped back inside a school building across the Issaquah School District for the first time in more than a year.

"I’m just excited we are going back to school and hopefully it’s fun," student Jenna Miles said.

"Every aspect, everything we do for students is new, from building entrance procedures, to entering classroom procedures to what lunch looks like," Skyline High School Principal Keith Hennig said.

Hearing about it is one thing but experiencing all the changes is another. We checked in with senior Stephanie Niesen at Liberty High school during a break at school on Thursday.

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"At lunch you have to just sit there, once you pick your seat you can’t go wander around, once you pick your seat you have to stay in that seat," Niesen said.

Students at every high school are not allowed to congregate and the goal is to socially distance in the hallways while students transition from one class to another.

"It’s all changed but it’s nice to see your teachers and communicate with people not through a screen and actually see people’s faces," Niesen said.

The biggest surprise for Niesen and her boyfriend who is also a senior is that many in their graduating class at Liberty have chosen to stay remote.

"Most of the kids showing up are underclassmen, there isn’t a lot of seniors and it’s funny because those are the people I would be spending my time with," Niesen said.

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Another aspect Niesen finds both intriguing and weird is how educators in her district are teaching students in person and remote all at the same time.

"What we call concurrent teaching and learning where teachers will have students in front of them in the classroom and also have students remotely joining the classroom the real challenge is how do we incorporate in-person and remote in the same class period," Principal Hennig said.

It’s day one in that experiment for higher schoolers in the Issaquah School District.

When we asked Niesen what impressed her the most on the first day back, her answer was collaboration.

"The teachers and the administration with the teachers they are all doing this together as a team as opposed to bossing each other around, you know, or do it there one way which I feel you don’t always see in a school system," Niesen said.

High schoolers are given the option of two full days back in person per week.

ISD said they do not have the breakdown of how many kids came back to school versus learning from home yet because it is just the first day.

But in a February poll, around 75 percent of middle and high school families surveyed indicated they wanted in-person learning.

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