VoK collection: Return to in-person learning

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in St. Louis County, Kirkwood High School has begun to make the transition back to in-person learning. With mask mandates, desk dividers and socially distancing rules in place, KSD is making an effort to facilitate a safe return to school. Moving forward with these changes, it will be important to listen to the voices of Kirkwood— students from each grade, both in-person and virtual, teachers and parents.


Allison Schmidt, freshman, returning to in-person 

Allison Schmidt, freshman, said she decided on returning to in-person learning because e-learning was distracting and she was having a difficult time completing work. (Photo courtesy of Allison Schmidt)

“I really liked [the first day back],” Allison Schmidt, freshman, said. “It was really exciting to actually be in the building and I actually felt like I was in high school instead of just being at home. It was really nice to figure out where all my classes were, and I was surprised that I actually found my way around easier than I thought I was going to. It was nice seeing [friends that] I haven’t seen in a couple months [as well as] seeing my teachers.”








Rachel Walkehorst, freshman, remaining virtual

Rachel Walkenhorst, freshmen, said that her mom and siblings got diagnosed with COVID-19 around Halloween, and that she will be able to return to in-person learning around Nov. 24. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Walkenhorst)

“I wish I was in school because I see everyone there and I wish I was there because I miss socializing with people,” Rachel Walkenhorst, freshman, said. “At the same time it looks weird because I can see the shield things from the Zoom, and it looks like it’s not super fun because no one is really talking.”










Lia Marchionne, sophomore, returning to in-person

Lia Marchionne, sophomore, has chosen to return to school in-person. (Photo courtesy of Lia Marchionne)

“At first, I thought the [back-to-school plan] was a bit of a bad idea, but I think it’s working out pretty well.” Lia Marchionne, sophomore, said. “I think that [the KSD has been protecting students and staff]. I walked into my classes and all of them had a sign that says when you should wear a mask. They [all] have hand sanitizer [available], and they also gave us masks. It’s really good of them to do that to keep everyone safe. I like the environment of [in-person learning right now], it’s really nice. I’m pretty satisfied. I’m not really that worried right now, I think it’ll be okay. I plan to stick it out in-person.”






Kyra Goudsmit, sophomore, remaining virtual

Kyra Goudsmit, sophomore, feels that the return to school is premature, and has chosen to stay virtual. (Photo courtesy of Kyra Goudsmit)

“I think [the back-to-school plan] was really premature and we shouldn’t be going back yet,” Kyra Goudsmit, sophomore, said. “The cases are worse than they were in March, yet now, we’re going back suddenly. For any student going [back to] in-person [learning], it’s their choice to do that. It comes with some risks. In some of my classes, I’ll see teachers taking their masks off and walking right up to students. I was worried about [staying virtual] before, but now that I’ve seen how it is, it’s pretty much the same. In some ways, it’s easier to be online. I didn’t see a point in going to school for a few hours a day and risking my life.”





Lucy Burns, junior, returning to in-person

Lucy Burns, junior, has made the decision to return to in-person despite her concerns. (Photo Courtesy of Lucy Burns)

“I think I am more nervous about getting COVID than having to go back to virtual,” Lucy Burns, junior, said. “Obviously that will be disappointing if we do, but if the reason we go back to virtual is COVID cases rise, I feel like I would feel more safe if we went back to virtual for that.”











Cheyenne Eckstein, junior, remaining virtual

Cheyenne Eckstein, junior, has chosen to remain virtual to protect her family from further exposure. (Photo Courtesy of Cheyenne Eckstein)

“I work at the Daily Bread and I feel like I’m already exposing my family to one big thing,” Cheyenne Eckstein, junior, said. “I don’t want to go to school and accidentally get exposed there as well.”










Anna Demarco, senior, returning to in-person

Anna Demarco, senior, has chosen to return in-person and already feels that it is a better situation. (Photo Courtesy of Anna Demarco)

“The first day was super weird, but it was exciting to see everyone even in between classes” Anna Demarco, senior, said. “[I could tell on the first day that in-person] was already working better than online. I could tell that in my [calculus] class that everyone was working more efficiently.”













Chris Palmer, senior, remaining virtual

Chris Palmer, senior, weighed the situation and decided virtual would be the safest option for his family. (Photo Courtesy of Chris Palmer)

“The pros of going back are that it would probably help me retain information and learn more,” Chris Palmer, senior, said. “While the precautions we are taking are very good, [possible exposures] will still happen. I don’t want to deal with it and cause my family members to have to quarantine as well. My sister is already going back to school and me going back will increase the risk even more.”








Matt Stoner, KHS teacher, returning to in-person

Matt Stoner, KHS social studies teacher, feels that the return to in-person learning is awkward but ultimately for the best. (Lily Bartin)

“It’s awkward, but we all knew it would be certainly not ideal. It is good to see students in person though. I’m going to try to make sure that the people staying virtual will still get just as much out of class as the students here in-person. However there are definitely limitations to how I can teach a student virtually, versus someone in-person. If COVID-19 cases keep spiking, we will probably have to go virtual again, but fingers crossed we can stay in person and the safety measures put in place by the district will certainly help.” Matt Stoner, KHS teacher said. “Bottom line, we’re making the best of a bad situation. My wife is an ICU nurse and watching her on the front lines taking care of people throughout this crisis is inspiring to me, to come back and teach.”





Jen Ullery, KHS parent

“I’m very grateful that Kirkwood went bak to school, and provided an in-person learning environment. Everyone is in masks, they’re socially distanced, it seems like the schools are the most safe opportunity for kids to learn and be together. I hope that they can stay back to school in-person.” Jen Ullery, KHS parent, said. “There are so many factors with virtual learning that are difficult for these kids. There’s the social isolation factors, that’s difficult for a lot of kids. I’m also worried that virtual learning causes a learning gap for students, since some have access to stable learning environments at home, and others have so many others things to worry about at home besides their classes. I am really glad to see the kids start to go back in-person and I hope the district can continue that way safely.”