By Marissa Cohen
Congratulations, students! We’ve officially made it through three months of virtual and hybrid learning with no lack of changes, school-wide shutdowns, and controversial school board decisions. These past few months have been a test of students’ and teachers’ abilities to adapt to change quickly, and it’s clear that many people in our school community are up to the challenge.
However, every person at North has a different opinion on how the year has been going so far and on what should happen going forward. In order to get a sense of what some students at North think, I reached out to two students, one virtual and one hybrid, and asked them a few questions about how this year has been going.
Alexa Schnur, a senior here at North, is staying virtual for the time being. The first question I asked her had to do with virtual students sometimes feeling at a disadvantage while at home. When hybrid learning first began, some virtual students were worried that their teachers would naturally gravitate towards the students going in-person, and that it would eventually affect their learning. But according to Alexa, this was never an issue: because most students are staying home, there’s no real difference in attention given to virtual versus hybrid students.
I then asked Alexa whether or not she believes North has done a good job setting up and restricting Covid-19 guidelines. Alexa doesn’t really think so, stating that “sports teams spread a lot of the virus at our school and they are never held accountable for hanging out and not following guidelines.”
Alexa’s not the only one who believes this--some other students, both virtual and hybrid, have voiced their concerns about what they see as unfair treatment that athletes at North are getting compared to everyone else. Naturally, many student athletes did try to follow Covid-19 guidelines to the best of their ability, but it can be hard when playing sports that necessitate close contact.
I then interviewed Hannah Weiss, a junior at North, who has been going in person since the end of September. I asked Hannah if she ever felt unsafe or at risk of contracting Covid-19 while at North, and she told me that she does at times, especially when teachers give “mask breaks” during class or when they fail to keep a good distance in their classrooms. The idea of mask breaks has been contested a few times this year since some parents and students believe that students in high school are old enough to keep a mask on for a few hours without taking a break. Others say that it’s important to remember how quickly Covid-19 can transmit, and that taking your mask off for even a few seconds may cause a transmission.
I also asked Hannah the same question I asked Alexa--is North doing a good job at setting up and following Covid-19 guidelines? Hannah said a lot about the possibility of a five-day, in-person school week starting this winter, saying that “they (the district) absolutely should not implement 5 day, because that means the safety level will drop drastically,” and that “it’s extremely unfair.”
The idea of a five-day school week has been debated for months, and many students in the district end end up going from hybrid to virtual when that change occurs on February 1, making many people concerned that this idea is catering to some students and forcing others to learn in an environment that doesn’t always work for them. On the other hand, there is definite support for a 5-day week, with some parents concerned that students aren’t getting enough education and support through hybrid learning.
Based on the opinions of the two students I interviewed and on what I’ve heard and seen over the past few months, nearly everybody at North is unhappy about how things have been handled recently. Some people are on the side of creating stricter restrictions and erring on the side of caution until enough people have the vaccine, while others are pushing for fewer restrictions and a 5-day school week. No matter what your opinion is, remember that you have a voice, and that it’s important to speak up for what you believe our school should do. For now, make sure to stay optimistic and focused, and have a great winter break.