Yukon students have been back in class for more than a month now, but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it's been far from an ordinary high school experience.
CBC's Yukon Morning host Elyn Jones spoke to Whitehorse Grade 11 students Aislynn Thompson-Elias and Noah Marnik about the changes.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Whitehorse Grades 10 to 12 are in class half the day, either the mornings or afternoons. How are you feeling about the school year so far?
Noah Marnik, F.H. Collins Secondary School: I'm actually loving it. I like the fact that we just have more time not in school. I still do my work outside of school, but it's just the fact that I'm not in the building itself all the time.
Aislynn Thompson-Elias, Porter Creek Secondary School: I kind of don't like how we're having less time with our teachers.
When we have questions we usually just email our teachers, but a lot of the time our teachers don't have the time to give back to us.
Marnik: [Students operate on a two-day schedule, taking two classes per day.] We have 20 minutes during lunch break to ask questions [about the next day's class]. It's been good for me.
Are you finding there's a lot of homework with the current situation?
Thompson-Elias: Most of the time when we're in our class our teachers are explaining the lesson, so we have less time to do the work.
Doing schoolwork at home isn't as bad, it's just not having the support from your teachers constantly.
School schedules have changed due to COVID-19 guidelines. What's it like when the bell rings and it's time to head to that next class?
Thompson-Elias: We only have five minutes between classes, so if your one class is on the other side of the building you don't necessarily have enough time.
Marnik: Yeah, that's the one thing that's annoying.
Do you have lockers this year?
Marknik: No, nothing like that. [We carry backpacks around].
[Lockers are not allowed to avoid students gathering in the hallways].
Are people wearing masks in school?
Thompson-Elias: Not really.
Marknik: It depends where I am. If you're in the hallways or study halls they want you to wear masks, but if you're in the classrooms you don't need to.
It doesn't sound like there's much time for socializing. Are you able to connect with your friends right now?
Thompson-Elias: Not really. Sometimes your friends have class in a different half of the day, so you could be going to school in the morning and most of your friends could be going in the afternoon.
Marknik: It's not affecting me too bad, but yeah, having all my friends in the other time period is a bit difficult for me.
How concerned are you about about how this different school year might affect your grades or plans after high school?
Marnick: I don't imagine it'll be that bad because in the end we're still doing all the work. And we'll kind of be at an advantage because we'll have learned to work on our own, which I imagine will be useful for university.
But I think getting the grades might be a bit harder. But if I get in to university, I think it'll be a bit easier.
Thompson-Elias: I think it's going to affect us, because some of the teachers had to cut things out of the curriculum, which may prove to be important later on in college.
What kind of changes would you like to see?
Thompson-Elias: I think more class time.
Preferably [back full time], because then we're not switching our classes every day, which is kind of confusing.
Do you think it'd be possible to go back full-time and still keep a distance?
Thompson-Elias: I think so. We do have the Grade 8s and 9s going back full time. We are sharing washrooms and walking down the same hallways and seeing the same teachers, so it shouldn't make a difference.
Marnick: I do think we should have more time with teachers, but I don't know how we'd be able to do it. Here at F.H. Collins Secondary School it's just the Grade 9s that are back full time, but even then it's still a lot of people. My English class has 18 people still, and that's still a lot for trying to social distance.