Highland High is Back in Business

Highland High opens its doors to students on February 8th.

Sebastian Ramos

Highland High opens its doors to students on February 8th.

Olivia Hufford, Staff Writer

After nearly a year of teachers, students, and administrators working tirelessly from a distance, Highland High has opened its doors to those who wish to attend in-person.

The Salt Lake City School Board voted a matter of weeks ago to make this an option and, since then, the district’s high school communities have been preparing for the desolate hallways to be brightened by the presence of students. 

February 8th and 9th were the first days students had the opportunity to learn from inside the building, based on last names A-L and M-Z respectively. 

Given the school’s extremely limited occupancy since last March, the first days back were met with some complications. These ranged from teachers and students simply adjusting to the multi-learning model to the bell system having to be recalibrated for the upcoming weeks of learning. 

The first day also meant a mandatory COVID-19 test for all prospective in-person students. Upon entering the school, students lined the hallway waiting to receive their tests and be cleared to go to class for the first time.

Highland’s empty hallways are home to students once again. (Olivia Hufford)

Sosefina Langi, who attended in-person school February 8this excited to have this new opportunity. 

“I’m looking forward to the hands-on projects, being able to see friends, [and] meet new people,” Langi said. “Just being able to meet our teachers and be in-person.” 

Despite the excitement, there is still some uncertainty surrounding what the next few weeks after reopening will bring 

Highland student Quinn Hardman admits he has some concerns over the ability to stay socially distanced. That said, he has the hope that this will be a major step forward. 

“It’s more normalcy than we’ve had all year,” Hardman said on his way to the cafeteria. 

As teachers juggle online and in-person students simultaneously, there were bound to be some setbacks. But all things considered, many students—both those online and in-personfound that their week went by smoothly. 

Highland students Jordan Lynch, Noah Benson, and Quinn Hardman (left to right) make their way to the cafeteria on their first day of in-person school. (Olivia Hufford)

One Highland sophomore, Lizbeth Hernandez, made the decision to move forward with remote learning. As a student learning online, she agrees that the first few days continued to provide quality learning. 

“I haven’t really noticed anything different about the teaching,” Hernandez said. “The work given is reasonable and manageable to do.” 

Hernandez feels that remote learning is the best option for her and her family, saying that, overall, she feels confident in her choice and ability to learn. 

Jared Wright, a Highland senior who has continued with remote learning, admits that the teaching during the new multi-learning model has varied.  

“It depends on the teacher,” he said. 

Despite this, Wright also finds the in-person option to be a good thing, especially given the issues that were caused by the lack thereof: “It’s [been] saddening to see Highland so divided.

“I think you should be able to do what works best for you, no matter what, and not criticize others for it,” Wright said. 

From many perspectives, Highland’s new in-person option is most notably a step towards “normal.” For the first time, black screens flipped to recognizable faces and freshman were able to walk the halls of their own high school. 

As the Highland community walks the tightrope of this new era, it is clear that the options for interaction are far from unlimited. Nonetheless, there is an undeniable hope that this opportunity will be taken with the responsibility that lies on each person’s shoulders.