Big changes in back to school

Students transition into four days a week in person learning

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Surrounded by students, junior Jacob Kinaya goes back to school full time in person for four days a week. “I feel a little overwhelmed as it is a big change in the school but so far I would say it has been good,” Kinaya continued on with his in person school day.

Morgan Pankiewicz, Editor

This recent pandemic threw a huge obstacle at not only the world as a whole but our school, staff and students; from switching to remote learning to hybrid learning, Utica Community Schools plans to return to school four days a week.

“We have a lot of safety measures in place, all the classes will continue to have the alcohol wipes provided hoping that students are wiping down their desks before or after class,” Principal Jared McEvoy said. “We will still continue to have distance between the students even though it will be tighter, all students will still be masked and we have our custodial team cleaning and using their mist regularly.” 

This month the superintendent board made the decision to go back to school full time and transition out of our  normal hybrid schedule. Students will be going back full time to start four days a week in person.

“My biggest concern is that not all teachers have been able to get the vaccine so they are not all protected,” junior Jacob Kinaya said. “I also am concerned with social distancing and going back to having 30-40 kids in a room together because unfortunately some kids don’t take the virus seriously.” 

Returning back into full time in person learning can also be very helpful for students to get back into the groove. Online learning is difficult for many students to pay attention and actually learn.

“Sometimes being in person is helpful because it is quicker to talk through simple tasks or have discussions about things rather than having to type everything out or complete multiple assignments,” senior Kelsey McLean said. “Full time in person learning is also beneficial because it forces students to concentrate more and allows more social skills to be used.”

There are benefits that come with full time in person learning compared to online learning. 21 percent of all public schools in the US offer any courses entirely online according to nces.ed.gov.  

“When we return on March 15th, we will remain on our current structure with block scheduling. That will also allow five lunches to stay consistent,” McEvoy said. “We are also looking to continue with the one way directional flow, that seems to be working out really well for students.”

The staff and administrators become willing to help out students throughout this transition. The change is approaching but administrators are trying to lay everything out to make it as easy as possible for students to adapt by still installing many safety measures and ways to keep students safe.

“Students need to use common sense and be diligent, each individual needs to do what they can with hand washing and using hand sanitizer,” McEvoy said “There’s nothing I want more than to have all of you guys back in and finish up the last few months of the school year,” 

Precautions become available to relieve stress in going back full time in school. Wearing a well-fitted mask helps prevent virus particles from being breathed in by the person wearing a mask according to the CDC.  

“Back to school differs from my expectations as it is more crowded in the halls than expected, however the lunch room is better distanced than expected, it is a big change in the school but so far I would say it has been good,” Kinaya said “Full time in person has affected me for the better it leaves me more focused and not putting off work like when I am at home.”

Many areas of back to school these many days during a week will feel normal for some students, but it can be a big transition as students are so used to remote learning now.

“It has definitely been a change because I was used to the small class sizes and the routine with the hybrid learning model,” McLean said “ I think going back has benefited my learning because it motivates me to focus and engage more in the lessons.”

Overall, this is a big change considering the circumstances and situation. We as a student body along with the staff will be able to adjust and adapt to the new way of doing things.

“The hardest part is we need students and families to make good choices outside of school too, which, obviously, we have no control over,” McEvoy said. “The hope would be that the good choices are made at home so nothing negative is brought into the building and impacts the building in that regard.”