I am actually looking forward to school because I miss my friends.South Effingham Elementary School fifth-grader Jacob McNicoll
RINCON — Since in-school learning was suspended in Georgia 20 weeks ago because of COVID-19, one thing has apparently spread faster than the virus — boredom.
It seems that many students in the Effingham County School District, based on a tiny sampling of children, are eager to return to the classroom Wednesday for the first time since March 16.
“I am actually looking forward to school because I haven’t seen my friends,” said Jacob McNicoll, a South Effingham Elementary School fifth grader. “I have been very bored.”
McNicoll said it took about six weeks to grow weary of COVID-19 restrictions that made hermits of many families.
“I went to summer school, I played baseball and I went to my grandma’s house — both of them — for about a week,” he said. “We also went to Florida but I haven’t seen that many people.”
McNicoll said his summer highlights include catching a Spanish mackerel and visiting Wakulla Springs, Fla. He said he greatly missed Boy School outings that became COVID-19 casualties.
About 3,000 of the nearly 13,000 students in the district will participate in online learning early in the 2020-21 school year. McNicoll wasn’t a fan of that method when it became necessary last spring after Gov. Brian Kemp ordered all public schools to close.
“There were some ups and downs, like you don’t get to see your friends but you are at your house,” he said. “It’s a little hard because you are not having interaction with your teacher.”
McNicoll knows it will be different when he is reunited with his classmates.
“It’s going to be really weird, change,” he said about social distancing requirements.
Count Ebenezer Middle School eighth-grader Bella Scroggs as another student happy to be return to school.
“On a scale of one to 10, I’d say it’s about an eight or a nine,” she said.
Scroggs misses playing volleyball and golf for the Eagles but those aren’t her top concern.
“Seeing my friends again is definitely the main reason I want to go back,” she said. “I’ve seen most of my close friends recently but there are a couple I haven’t. I’ve had some sleepovers and stuff like that.”
Scroggs had a somewhat active summer. She spent most days at her grandparents’ house and got to fly an airplane. She is an aspiring pilot.
The only drawback about to returning to school is wearing a mask, Scroggs said. “I don’t have to but I will because I want to be safe. It’ll be fine.”
Chelsea Dennis is more excited about returning to school than she has ever been. She is a freshman member of Effingham County High School’s volleyball team.
“I am excited about volleyball because I haven’t really played on a team in awhile,” she said. “I’m also excited to see my friends because I haven’t seen a lot of them in months.”
Like McNicoll, Dennis got bored “real quick” after classes ended in the early stages of the pandemic. She passed the time by exercising with her father, honing her volleyball skills and lots of web surfing. She admitted to spending several hours per day online.
Despite her affinity for computers, Dennis isn’t a proponent of virtual learning.
“I don’t think I learned anything from it,” she said.
Dennis said she isn’t worried about contracting COVID-19 at school.
“I wear a mask when I’m around a lot of people,” she said.
Dennis will be joined at Effingham County High School by Journey Rought, a competitive cheerleader.
“I’m excited about my senior year,” she said. “I think it is going to be fun. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends, football games, cheer season and Work-Based Learning.”
Rought, who worked for the Effingham Herald during the break, said she could stand some fun in her life.
“I’ve been pretty bored because I didn’t really go anywhere,” she said.
Rought, however, said that spending extra time with her family was a summer highlight. They watched numerous movies together.
The desire to return to school in Effingham County isn’t universal. Second-grade twins Jase and Emma Helmly have extremely divergent views.
During South Effingham Elementary School’s open house, Jase said, “I want to go back because I miss my friends.”
“I don’t,” Emma shot back. “I hate school.”