On Mar. 15, nearly a full year after closing in 2020 due to COVID-19, MC has officially reopened its doors—with limitations. In the weeks prior, students and parents were required to choose from three options: staying virtual, going to school on a hybrid program, or seeking an alternative program. Both the virtual and hybrid options include an asynchronous day on Friday.
Through the fully virtual plan, students attend classes over Zoom for the remaining days of the week. On the other hand, those in the hybrid program are separated into two groups, A or B; the two cohorts alternate attending school in-person and learning virtually to allow students to enter the classroom twice a week while also compressing class sizes to ensure further safety. As of Apr. 5, hybrid students will become full-time students (aside from the asynchronous Friday), going back to school four days a week.
Underclassmen are generally evenly split between choosing hybrid learning and remaining online whereas about three-fourths of the upperclassmen have opted to stick with Zoom. Virtual learning satisfaction appears to correlate with the number of people staying virtual. A majority, 57.3 percent, of students are either satisfied or very satisfied with online learning.
While virtual learning has obviously led to disruptions in students’ education, nearly two-thirds of students claim their grades have stayed consistent with the grades they received before the transition to online education.
Along with this new system, MC has also established a new schedule. However, with this has come lots of student dissatisfaction. Virtual and hybrid students alike are similarly criticizing the earlier start time as well as the arbitrary start and end period times. Although this new schedule supports the strict bus schedule and allows parents to drop off their kids with time to go to work, a vast majority of students are disapproving of the earlier start and later end times.
“Please fix the schedule. If the students and teachers don’t like it, something is very wrong,” said an anonymous MC student.
While most students generally dislike the schedule, there are certain inconsistencies concerning how MC should resolve the most prominent issue: bringing all students back. Suggestions range from going back to school “with no masks” to “randomized group of A and B,” as opposed to cohorts, created based on alphabetical last names. Several students wish for “all or nothing.” In other words, they wish to have everyone go back to school without any COVID-19 restrictions or to remain completely online as before. Others bring no suggestions, but rather warnings about the well-being of their fellow classmates.
“I believe that school can only function well if the students and faculty are in good health physically, mentally, and socially. I think that all teachers getting their vaccine is a must, and believe that has happened so I applaud the board for that,” an anonymous MC student said. “However, I do believe that many students have many mental and social health issues due to the pandemic. I don’t have any solutions to this problem but I do know that it exists due to the mental load school already brings on top of the issues the pandemic brings.”
Although not all students have the same views on district and school management of COVID-19 policies, many agree that the teachers are truly heroes for successfully weathering the hardships accompanying this pandemic-ridden period.
“All of my teachers have been absolutely amazing throughout this incredibly difficult time. They have managed to somehow stay organized and create a great learning environment all online. They have guided us through this entire process and I am personally so grateful for each one of them,” an anonymous MC student said.
“Hang in there — we see how hard you’re trying and we appreciate you guys!” another said about MC’s teachers.
“Thank you for all the hard work that you have put in thus far. By this point in time, it has been over 365 days since America first grounded to a halt. For the hard-working teachers of MCHS, 4 trimesters of virtual teaching will be reached and completed by this June. Under the current and ongoing circumstances, the teachers of MCHS have done a most excellent job in teaching,” a different MC student said.
As always, there is little knowing what effects the new policies will have on teachers, parents, and students, but as we enter the final trimester of this 2020-2021 school year, there is growing hope that everyone will be able to return to a sense of normalcy next year.