Full-in-person school brings back sense of normality (column)

Junior Adrienne Peters scrolls through Google Classroom trying to find an assignment. Photo by Tori Ables.

Story by Mia Compton.

Throughout the 2020-2021 school year, students have faced many changes in the school schedule. First, students were attending school on a hybrid schedule. With the rise in COVID-19 cases in Floyd County, NAFCS was forced to follow an all-virtual schedule through the end of the first semester. In early January, students were able to return back to the hybrid schedule.

As more and more people are getting vaccinated, NAFCS decided that it would be in their best interest to send students back five days a week, while still offering a virtual option for those who choose not to return. 

This decision was quite abrupt and unexpected. I feared that my classrooms would be too full, and that no one would be able to social distance. However, I felt confident that NAFCS would implement procedures to keep us safe.

So far, I have been pleasantly surprised.

Throughout the first two weeks back, we followed a new bell schedule.  All seven periods were shortened by a few minutes, and lunch times were extended to offer more room for social distancing and cleaning. This gave students a 30 minute study hall during their fourth period.

This study hall was helpful because it allowed me to get a head start on my homework for the night.  However, administrators decided to condense the lunch into two separate times, getting rid of the study hall.  While this was disappointing, it has allowed students to follow the normal bell schedule without any confusion.

While class sizes are twice as large, I have never once felt unsafe with the return to five days a week. In the cafeteria and gym, students must sit one seat apart to maintain social distancing guidelines. Teachers have accommodated larger class sizes by spreading out desks to keep students socially distanced.

Teachers have also been enforcing proper mask-wearing. Masks should be worn over the nose and mouth. For the most part, students have been abiding by these guidelines.

While I have enjoyed returning to school, it has been difficult to adhere to a new schedule. Getting up at six in the morning has always been exhausting, but it is even worse to get up that early five days a week compared to two days. 

Throughout the hybrid schedule, a lot of my teachers “flipped” their classrooms. This meant we learned the material through videos at night, and then completed our assignments in class. Since most students have returned to in-person classes, teachers have since switched to a traditional classroom setting. While this helps me have a better understanding of the material, it has been quite an adjustment to get used to.

With the return to all five days, I have begun to wonder what next year’s schedule will be like.  

President Joe Biden announced that by April 19, the COVID-19 vaccine will be widely available to all adults. The Pfizer vaccine has also been authorized for teenagers ages 16 and older. 

Some universities are requiring students to receive the vaccine before returning this fall, including Cornell University and Columbia University. As of now, no Indiana colleges have set a requirement. However, according to an Indiana Daily Student article, IU is considering requiring students to get the vaccine.

With the wide eligibility for vaccines in the United States, we should continue to see a decrease in the number of cases.  By August, I think that schools should be able to continue the five days a week schedule. Indiana University and Purdue University have planned to send students back to in-person classes this fall.

The return to all five days a week has given me a sense of normalcy. While it has been exhausting, it has allowed me to develop a better schedule, as well as better engagement in my classes.

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