PHOENIX — As tens of thousands of students return to in-person learning on March 15, new insight into some of their experiences and emotions throughout the pandemic.
Marc Schumann teaches fourth grade at Excelencia Elementary School in Phoenix's Creighton School District. He and his students have been learning remotely for all but a few weeks of this school year.
"It's just been a real testament to our commitment to each other, and our commitment to learning," he said. "It's just re-affirmed how much we care at our school, about our students, and how much the kids care about each other, which I think comes through in the video."
That video is "Sounds of Spring," a six-minute documentary put together by Schumann and a local cinematographer Saxon Richardson. It chronicles his "check-in" with several students going into spring break. Many of them seeing their classmates for the first time in nearly a year.
"Just how much it meant to them to see each other again was really evident," said Schumann.
Also evident was the many different ways the pandemic has impacted his students' lives.
Here are just some of the student responses Schumann documented:
"I just don't want to get sick and make my family get sick, because I want to protect my family without getting COVID. I'm too young to die and I don't want no one in my family to die."
"Sometimes the internet won't work so I just wait for the internet to come back up and just pray that it goes back up fast enough so I won't miss a lesson."
"Try to avoid the background noise, and if there is any, I try to ignore it and just stay focused."
"I want to stay home because of COVID, and then I want to go to school so that I don't have too much surrounding me that are interrupting me like my sister or my parents."
"I feel like the classrooms will look different now, and my friends because I haven't seen them in a while."
Schumann says about half of his students will return to class after spring break. The other half will remain online. He hopes creating and sharing this video can help cultivate more empathy and understanding.
"We can't just put all kids into one group in terms of how they're experiencing COVID, how they're experiencing remote learning," he said. "I think ultimately it's brought us closer together because we do want to continue learning, we do want to just continue building our community."