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Western New York high school students weigh in on back-to-school options

Students will likely be learning in the classroom, remotely or a hybrid of both models.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — No student is the same, and that's reflective in the way they're thinking about back to school season in the age of COVID-19.

"I would really like to be able to see my friends again," said Sam Farrell, a student at City Honors.

"Nothing about this year is going to be normal, so I do expect a lot of flexibility," Cleveland Hill student Jamal Harris Jr. said. 

Emma Stanczyk, a student at Park School of Buffalo, told 2 On Your Side, "My main hope that all of these plans for reopening can actually be carried out successfully." 

All three students are heading into their senior year, and they each have different hopes for what this school year will look like. 

"I'm really a fan of hybrid learning. It's super helpful because I'd like to be able to spend a couple days in the classroom, but even if we can't do that, Zoom meetings semi-regularly would be kind of helpful," Farrell said. 

He added, "It's helpful to be able to engage with your teachers in that way and it makes you feel more involved in the classroom experience in my opinion."

Added Harris, when asked what kind of learning model he would want for the upcoming school year: "Full in-person learning with proper safety precautions."

Stanczyk believes there are pros and cons to each option.

She told 2 On Your Side, "Knowing that going back to school in person, there's a possibility that anyone of us could contract it, even bring it home to our families."  

Of course, a remote learning model means even fewer interactions with others.

That's something all three students mentioned.

Harris said, "I'm a really social person. That's really the point about school I really enjoy -- the socialization with a lot of my friends and the staff members too so that's been extremely tough."

This academic year, Stanczyk wants to see additional resources to address social and emotional needs. 

"I think not being able to see our friends in school at least in the way that we're used to is going to have a significant emotional strain," said Stanczyk.

There's also the question of the typical end of high school milestones, like prom and graduation.

"I don't know what prom's gonna look like, but I think the most important thing is that it's safe," Farrell said.

As districts continue to fine-tune their reopening plans, the people we spoke to hope students' perspectives will be listened to.