East High School student steps into the classroom for the first time in almost a year


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Many parents and students in the Salt Lake City School District have expressed their frustration about not having the option to learn in-person. Now, students are being welcomed back to the classroom a couple of times a week, and it’s easing concerns for some.

Nearly a year since the pandemic began, Tucker McCormick stepped foot in a classroom for the first time Tuesday.

A freshman at East High School, McCormick said it felt good to learn in-person.   

“It’s definitely easier cause the teachers are there, and you can ask questions if you want to. It’s just a lot easier for them to explain it to you and it makes it easier to understand it,” he said.

While on school property, students are required to mask up.

“You have to wear your mask the whole time and you can’t take it off,” McCormick said. “And you have to social distance and sit a desk apart.”

The district is the last of Utah’s 41 districts to allow students the option to learn in-person again.

“It’s like A-L is Monday, Thursday, and then M-Z is Tuesday, Friday,” McCormick said of the hybrid model learning for students.

A district spokesperson told ABC4 News 35% of students will continue to learn online, but 65% are opting to learn in a hybrid model format.

For those learning in-person like McCormick, they will go to class two days a week, the rest online.

“It’s a start and for as far away as we’ve been and for a lot of worries that maybe we weren’t going back to school at all this year, it feels really good to be in that position,” said Emily Bell McCormick, Tucker McCormick’s mother.

Bell McCormick said it’s a sigh of relief to have her son back in the classroom.

“It was just so difficult for them to stay motivated, stay interested,” she said. “And it doesn’t matter how good your teacher is, you know, it was great to have good teachers, but ultimately, it’s just so hard when you don’t have to be accountable in-person for something. It’s really asking a lot of teenagers.”

With many students’ grades suffering, she said this is a day she – and many other parents – have looked forward to for a long time.

“I really do believe most of these kids are going to be doing a lot better now that they’re in-person,” Bell McCormick said.

And for Tucker McCormick, he’s happy to be back with his friends.

“Cause all my friends are at school and it’s fun to see them,” he said.

The district spokesperson said two days of in-person learning is where the school board has settled for now. In the future, it’s possible they consider introducing more days.

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