In their own words: Students share their concerns ahead of an unusual school year

In their own words: Students share their concerns ahead of an unusual school year

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The 2020-2021 school year is almost certain to be one of the most unique academic experiences for students in greater Cleveland.

While some local school districts are bringing kids into the classroom this year, many are beginning with online learning.

“It definitely can be harder online. We don’t really have instructions from the teachers,” said Manny Willis, who will be a junior at Garfield Heights High School this year.

“It just doesn’t feel as simple learning online as it is in school,” said twin brother Elijah Willis.

Garfield Heights will offer in-person classes, but the Willis’ will be staying home -- an option given to all students.

In the Fairview Park City School District, students will learn remotely for at least the first nine weeks of the school year.

“It’s easier for me to do school while in [the building] and just be able to communicate with everyone,” said Alexis Switkowski, who’s entering fourth grade at Fairview Park’s Gilles-Sweet Elementary. “It’s much easier to learn for me so it’s going to be a big change.”

Switkowski’s parents have opted to keep her home all year.

In Akron, school officials will evaluate their plan after nine weeks of online learning.

“I’m sad. I can’t see my friends. I want to go back to school right now,” said Ava Grace O’Brien, a soon-to-be fourth-grader at Akron’s Betty Jane Elementary.

From the sounds of it, her mother might be ready too.

“I have to go down the stairs, go up the stairs, back and forth, and it drives my mom nuts,” O’Brien said about her school day habits at home.

In Solon, schools will start with all students welcome to attend in person.

Like other districts, there is an option for remote learning.

Hannah and Rebecca Mitchell are preparing for the online option.

“I’m not sure how it’s going to work if you have any questions or if you want to work with someone to help you in class,” said Hannah, who’s entering eighth grade in the Solon district.

“Since it’s online, you can’t always questions when you want to. It’s going to be harder,” said sister Rebecca, who will be in fifth grade this year.

As for adjusting to the new style of learning?

“I’m not sure. I’m hoping you can just ask questions whenever you need to,” Hannah said.

Rebecca said she would also miss the social interaction with friends.

Brothers Grady and Gavin from Springfield, a pair of quiet yet quotable grade school children, are also preparing for the changes brought forth by an online education.

“It’s crazy! We usually go to school and we’re just going to be at home most of the time,” said Grady.

19 News asked the boys if they think it will be harder to learn.

“No, because I’m really smart,” said Gavin.

Grady agreed.

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