Valley students and parents are eager and apprehensive about schools reopening this fall.
"I hated school with a passion but now I wish I could have it back (as normal)," said Anthony Medina, an 11th-grade Selinsgrove High School student.
He and classmates Tori Ross, Rebecca Ellis and Madison Dominick said they want to get back to a regular school routine but have concerns about the health and safety of themselves and others.
They envision a school where water fountains will be turned off, bathroom stalls off limits and non-compliance with mask and social distancing requirements. They wonder how and where they will eat lunch and also hope the school provides regular health screening and temperature checks.
"It's stressful," said Medina of the worry he has about keeping his grandmother and other family members safe.
Tony and Cathy Shaffer, of Monroe Township, have different viewpoints about COVID-19 as they discuss their 12-year-old daughter, Laci's, return to school.
"Just send them back," Tony Shaffer said. "They're kids. They need social interaction."
Cathy Shaffer is more cautious and worries about the health risk if everyone in the school isn't following health guidelines properly.
"I do want Laci in school because it was very difficult to keep her motivated with online classes," she said, adding that her child's health is a top priority.
Ellis, a junior at Selinsgrove, said she had a lot planned for her junior year, including cosmetology courses at SUN Area Technical Institute and continuing in the marching band, and now wonders if those endeavors will be allowed.
"It feels like everything is being put on hold" due to COVID-19, she said. "I kind of feel we're losing our teenage years because of this. We're losing a lot of great memories."
Dominick said not being able to participate in year-end school events like the musical "took a huge toll on my mental health."
She'll be auditioning, virtually, to attend ballet academy in the fall.
An unmotivated online learner when schools shut down in March, Ellis said she "misses people" and needs the support in-class instruction provides but doesn't know how that will be accomplished safely.
"There's a lot of collaborative work in my classes," she said of the close proximity in which students engage in some studies.
While Ross did well with remote learning, she missed out on participating in the class musical and other extracurricular events in the spring.
In the fall she hopes to have the option of taking part in a combination of in-class instruction and remote learning and would prefer if the district shortens and staggers the days students are in school to ensure proper cleaning can be done and social distancing maintained.
"It should be a mix to meet the needs of all students. We need the support," Ross said.
Ellis, like Medina, said her views on attending school have shifted since the health pandemic has kept her home and separated from friends for months.
"I think everyone probably appreciates school just a little more," she said.