School's Back in Session! Kind of...
It has been eight months of virtual instruction since the Friday of March 13. This marks the longest most students have been out of the school building, not interacting with classmates and teachers on an everyday basis. Using virtual schooling programs like Google Meet and Schoology, NHS students have been learning from their homes because of COVID restrictions in New Jersey. Over the past couple of months, many schools have been opening back up to teachers and students with many schools using the hybrid plan. This upcoming November 16th, NHS students will finally be allowed back into the school building with the hybrid schedule. Elementary and special education students
Although NHS began the 2020-2021 school year at home, the schedule changed from A, B, C, and D days to G and H days in preparation for hybrid schooling. The hybrid schedule separates the students into three cohorts by the last name allowing the only one-third of the students into the building a day. The hybrid schedule helps to reduce classroom sizes and also maintain social distancing.
Opening the school back up means that it is going to be a lot different than it was last March. “Students will be required to wear a mask, complete the screening questions each morning, and their temperature will be taken prior to entry. says Mr. Joseph Materia, NHS Vice Principal. “Sanitizing stations have been placed by each classroom as well as windows will be open during classes in order to support the flow of outside air.” Along with the classrooms, Mr. Materia also explains how arrows will be placed throughout the hallways and stairwells with other monitoring taking place throughout the day to ensure social distancing. NHS staff has been preparing for students to finally come back to in-person learning while also maintaining the COVID precautions to prevent spreading.
A huge part of school is communicating ideas and thoughts with other classmates and teachers throughout the day. The interaction was a key component to school that is partially lost through virtual learning and COVID-19 as a whole. NHS English teacher, Mr. Evan Dickerson, who will be going back to school in November explains,” In my English class, I usually do a lot of group discussions and individual conferences. I'm going to have to rethink that this year to help us keep our distance and include our peers who are working from home. It will be tough, but I'm confident in our ability to make it work.”
Although there will be less students in each of the classrooms at a time, doesn’t mean that any less precautions should be taken if there were everyone. “Within my classroom, of course I'll be taking all of the standard precautions,” says Mr. Dickerson. “ Desks will be spaced six feet apart. Masks will be worn at all times. Desks will be cleaned between each class.” Going back to school might not be for everyone. Students and parents are able to choose between hybrid or continuing virtually for the next marking period.
Hybrid students are both concerned and eager to go back to school. “Going back to school is definitely going to be interesting,” says Caroline Warburton, a junior at NHS. “It’s going to feel weird, being that we haven’t been in a school setting for several months. It is going to be good for everyone to start returning to normalcy.”
Yes, students will be getting a taste of back to school or “normalcy,” but many wish that school would just go back to the way it was months ago. “I understand we have to follow covid guidelines, but I am not looking forward to having only a few classmates while in school,” says Samantha Tucholski, also a junior at NHS. “ I feel like it will be difficult for teachers to teach students that are at home and in school simultaneously, and also for students to be learning at school and virtually at home.”
Almost every day, we were in contact with other people whether it was in school, at stores, or even walking down the street. COVID-19 took away that privilege we never realized was a privilege. COVID-19 affected everyone, whether it was minor, major, physically, or mentally.
As months go by and life opens back up more and more as days go on, the ways we do things has changed dramatically since March, including school, which can take a toll on many. “As teachers, it feels more important than ever to be in touch with our students,” says Mr. Dickerson. “We need to make sure that we're not only looking after their academic well-being, but we're also carefully monitoring their physical and emotional health. As much as I'm looking forward to meeting my students in person for the first time, I know that I'll have to consider the realities of our situation. I'm trying to constantly remind myself that those I work with are people first, and students second. And thus, our physical safety and our mental health have to take precedent.”