The long awaited “first day” of school (November 2) has finally happened, but things looked a little different this year . . . Well, at least for that one week.
The end of the week saw Beaver Area return to online instruction after a surge of exposures and subsequent quarantines.
Due to COVID-19, students and staff adapted to new rules and guidelines. Masks are now mandatory at all times—and they seem to be posing a challenge not only for students but also teachers.
“No one likes the masks because it makes it hard for teachers and your friends to hear you, and it’s hard to hear the teachers at times. That gets annoying when you are actually trying to participate in class and have to repeat yourself,” stated sophomore Ana Avdellas.
So what are those things that violently attack your shins as you walk the hallway? No, not middle schoolers. They’re the plastic dividers that every student now must use in classes.
The portable divider shield acts as a sneeze guard to limit any unwanted germs from spreading outside of your desk area.
“I don’t particularly like the shields because I don’t think they are very useful, and it’s inconvenient to have to go to your locker every day after school [to store the shield],” complained junior Jordan Beck.
The dividers become more useful at lunch while students aren’t wearing masks, but yet they still pose challenges.
“I hate how you can’t hear your friends at lunch. I have to read everyone’s lips in order to try and have a conversation with them,” shared Avdellas.
However, there’s always a silver lining. Some classes became easier once the transition back to the building arrived. Most students, including junior Erin Bell, prefer face-to-face learning even with masks and shields.
“I think school is easier now because I prefer face-to-face learning since I’m less tempted by things in school than I am with all the distractions around me at home,” shared Bell.
Avdellas agreed with Bell and explained, “chemistry was super hard online. Doing labs was not easy and was hard to understand since we were watching videos of them instead doing them in class. Now that we are back, the labs are way easier and much more beneficial.”
But returning to the building also included some other changes—most classes have had to adapt to other Covid-inspired rules and it prevents students from getting the full experience of the class.
There is now no bell system, which makes high school feel a little like college, and some teachers even let you out a few minutes early—it’s always nice to have extra time to get to your next class. However, some students disagree.
“I don’t like not having bells; it stresses me out because I think I’m going to be late to class,” explained Bell.
But the decision to eliminate the bells was strategic. Rather than having 700 students pour into the halls at the sound of a bell creating a crowding situation, now students fade into and out of the halls at a slightly staggered rate thus reducing the social concentration.
At this point, though, students are just glad to be back.
“I just missed seeing my friends and teachers every day the most, as well as in-person learning,” said Beck.
If you’re a social person like Avdellas, being behind a screen for seven and a half months was a struggle, so being back is a relief.
“The thing I missed most about school is definitely seeing my friends, because I’m a super social person, and being cooped up in my house was not fun,” Avdellas shared.
Welcome back! Stay safe, practice social distance, and remember to wash your hands!