Back to School in North Alabama: Handling students' anxiety

Some students may feel reluctant heading back to the classroom.

Posted: Aug 2, 2021 1:52 PM
Updated: Aug 2, 2021 2:01 PM

There are several emotions a student can feel heading into a new school year, ranging from excitement to anxiety.

This year, North Alabama school districts are expecting the majority of students to come back in-person.

Since some students are still concerned about the pandemic, districts are ensuring they will have resources in place.

For a year and a half, incoming Huntsville City Schools' freshman Krayton Jones has been learning from home.

"I miss hanging out with my friends, I haven't talked to them in like over a year," Krayton said.

But thanks to the band, Krayton has been able to get a head start on reuniting with those friends at Columbia High School. For Krayton, his decision to stay at home was not because he didn't feel like going to class. He was nervous.

"He did not want to go back to school because he was afraid of catching Covid," Phyllis Jones said.

His mother said it was not until their family got vaccinated, they finally decided it was time to head back to in-person learning.

"Everyone still doesn't take it seriously enough to practice social distancing and keeping themselves safe," Phyllis said.

Krayton always planned on wearing a mask, but now he is feeling less anxious knowing his classmates will be required to.

"Cause we're still in the pandemic, it'll still keep you safe," Krayton said.

Over at Madison County Schools, the enrollment rate into the new year is looking slightly above last year's. The district has been preparing for a full return.

"The last 16 months have been a challenge, it's looked very different, looked different than ever before," Supervisor of Student Services Keith Trawick said.

While this year may look more normal, Trawick is investing more resources into mental health as a result of the pandemic.

"One of the biggest things we've been able to do is hire a mental health coordinator for Madison County Schools," He said.

The grant-funded position will help counselors and teachers stay on top of students' needs.

"Kids are definitely going to be anxious to come back to school, for multiple reasons. A lot of kids have enjoyed staying home for this year and a half so," Trawick said. "We want them to know that coming back to school isn't a bad thing. They need to be here, we want them to be here."

Back in Huntsville, at Columbia High School, Krayton's mother admits learning from a computer does not compare to the face-to-face interaction.

"It's good to get out, I'm glad to get out a little bit myself," she said.

Right now, Huntsville City Schools is the only district in North Alabama requiring masks. Other districts are leaving the choice up to parents but say that could change.

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