We are members of UCLA Community School’s Student Advisory Board. When the coronavirus changed life as we knew it, we came together to be sure that student voices were heard as our school moved to online learning. Our principal, Dr. Leyda Garcia, asked us to make a research project on our situation. In doing so, we were able to shape our teachers’ and administrators’ understanding of our experience with school during a pandemic and lead efforts to improve it. We designed and administered a bilingual online survey, analyzed data, and conducted grade-level focus groups to deepen our understanding of students’ feelings regarding what and how they were learning. We also designed a survey for teachers that gave us a better appreciation for the tremendous efforts they have made to create a space where we can continue to connect with each other and build a strong community.
Across all the groups we surveyed, all agreed on this: We miss our in-person community most. We also learned that empathy and appreciation will be integral to how our community moves forward. While this year has been far from ideal, it has not been lost. We have learned so much about ourselves and our school community. We have learned that our voices matter and that we have the power to gather information, communicate it and make things better — for us and the entire school.