Students and faculty in three Huntsville City high schools will return to classrooms on Monday after coronavirus quarantines sent them to remote learning schedules.
Columbia, Lee and New Century Technology high schools went virtual on Wednesday due to a lack of available staff at the schools.
Aidan Pennington is a sophomore at New Century Technology High School, and while he's excited to go back to in-person learning five days a week, he's now nervous to see everyone's reaction when they're back in the school.
“The halls are quiet, it feels robotic, like you’re the only person there now," said Aidan. "Everyone’s pretty scared about getting sick or getting their loved ones sick and you can definitely feel it in the atmosphere.”
Aidan lives with his grandmother, Rebecca Pennington, and she knows Aidan's main fear of being back in school five days a week is the risk of exposing her to the coronavirus.
“It scares them all. They have grandmothers, mothers that have other problems, fathers, these kids don’t want to feel responsible for bringing something home to them," said Rebecca. "The scare factor is off the charts."
Aidan said school is more difficult now because there's the fear of getting the virus stuck in his mind.
“It’s been really hard to, you know, focus and get motivated at school anymore," he said.
Rebecca is confident her family will stay healthy, and that helps Aidan see the positive side of traditional learning, even with all the changes this school year has.
“I like school. I really like school and I like being there inside and having all these friends and being able to talk to teachers, but recently, it doesn’t feel like I can do that anymore," he said. "Being virtual is nice being at home at first, but after a while, you realize how empty and alone you feel.”
Rebecca understands the risks of Aidan being in school, but she wants him to still live his life.
According to the district's COVID-19 dashboard, the three schools have 7 positive cases and 121 people in quarantine.