Students return to the classroom

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Photo by Suhanna Bamzai

Directional arrows in the hallways to encourage social distancing.

Mikey McGuire, Online Editor

After nearly a year of online learning, District 202 students have finally returned to the classroom for hybrid learning on Feb. 1 with freshmen alpha A-K The rest of the grades following in the weeks after.

 

“When the freshmen came back, I don’t think I’ve seen more excitement from kids walking in the door,” Principal Ross Draper said. “They were genuinely excited to be here as freshmen.”

 

This phase of the return to school plan involves students over Zoom and in the classroom at the same time. Students who elected to return, attend school two days a week and are on Zoom for the other three.  All students are remote on Wednesday. 

 

“I am better in person learning because I feel like I get hands-on experience,” Senior Galilee Montero said.  “Online makes me feel unconnected with anyone and the learning.”

 

Procedures are in place to ensure safety for those who elect to return to the building, including mask-wearing, frequent hand sanitizing and designated directional hallways.

 

“I’ve been super proud of the kids walking in with the green screens and face coverings, playing by the rules,” Draper said. “The kids have been wonderful, and I would say most kids walk in prepared.”

 

Though many of the procedures are deemed effective, some students believe there is still room for change to make things safer.

 

“The hallways should not be as complicated,” Montero said. There are many times when it takes too long to go to class.” “And, even if they keep the hallway rules, no one will stay apart.”

While the decision to return to person learning was easy for some students, others were not as eager to get back to the classroom.

 

“I am most apprehensive about being around people, and especially being around people that I’m supposed to know and these people I haven’t seen in nearly a year.,” senior Billy Krankavitch said. 

 

With students simultaneously in the building and online, students and teachers alike face challenges when it comes to instruction.

 

“Hybrid learning, in my opinion, has only caused confusion for me so far,” Krankavitch said. “Some classes don’t have Zoom meetings on some days, when some do, but only on certain days. It’s really confusing, and I’ve missed several classes due to this.”

 

While protocols are in place to prevent an outbreak if one occurs, the district has implemented many tools to find and isolate those affected.

 

“We have a contact tracing team through administration, secretaries and nursing staff,” Draper said. “If a case comes up, it’s an investigation of the kid’s location and who needs to quarantine. The contact tracing team has to investigate all the contact whether it was an athletic team, a classroom situation or a bus situation.”

 

Even though hybrid learning is temporary, some procedures introduced during this period may make their way into the classroom for a while longer.

 

“I will not be surprised if we have to wear masks for an extended period of time,” Draper said. “ If we are able to open up the building normally next fall, but we have to have a mask on, that is a huge win for our students and staff.”