In Person Learning: Welcome Back!
Mishawaka High School and John Young Middle School have reintroduced students into the building the past few weeks. Some COVID-19 procedures the buildings are following include: wearing masks all day- except when eating, plexiglass dividers at the lunch tables, and sanitizing your hands and desk before or after every class.
Students were able to choose if they wanted to attend school fully virtual, or an in person virtual hybrid. According to SCM About 66% of students chose to do the hybrid option. The students were divided into two groups, A and B. Group A attends school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays, and virtually Thursdays and Fridays. While Group B attends school in person Thursdays and Fridays, and virtually Mondays and Tuesdays. Both groups alternate going in person every Wednesday. This system essentially cuts the number of students in the building to half or about 500 students.
Additionally, SCM has instituted contact tracing. In every class, students have assigned seats- so, if one student were to experience symptoms of COVID-19, the school can trace back to every student who sat in the same seat as the ill student, and everyone near them. Contact tracing has been approved by the CDC as an effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19.
This is a big change for most students and teachers. One on one teaching is being limited, leading to a less personalized learning environment, which may inhibit some students' understanding of some topics.
“Everything is more difficult with COVID-19 adaptations,” Amy Foley, MHS physics teacher, stated. “I want to keep my online students engaged with the class, but I also don't want my in person students to sit on a Google Meet while they are here. Finding a balance has been very, very difficult.”
“The biggest annoyance is the [one-way] hallways. It gets confusing trying to find new classrooms when I’m not able to use the hallways I’m used to,” Abigail Singleton, MHS sophomore said.
COVID-19 adaptations greatly affect students and teacher learning environments. Multiple teachers at MHS have expressed concern about students' participation and grades. For students, the workload is a completely different experience. Some classes are loading students up with more work than they can handle- with little room to ask questions and gain understanding- and others are rarely assigning work, leaving virtual students without instruction.
“I am very, very worried about grades. Under normal circumstances, it is pretty easy to check in with students, have a quick conversation in the hall, remind them of missing work or ask them how things are going for them. Now, we have to rely on emails and Google Meets,” Foley expressed.
“Yes! I am very worried about my grades. In fact I am having daily breakdowns over my grades and I’m scared I’m going to fail.” Singleton admitted.
Hybrid learning seems to have proven itself as more of a hassle than going either full virtual or full in person.
“Mixing in person with the different days makes things more difficult with the due dates and having to worry about even more assignments,” Singleton says.
All in all, hybrid learning is showing its pros and cons. This is very evident in the group of students who started out last week with hybrid learning, then after experiencing it, switched back to full virtual learning.
The CDC’s response to the very common question “should I send my student back?” Is as follows, “in person instruction may offer easier access to school services, improved educational efficacy, more opportunities for social interaction and return to work for some parents and caregivers, but it also has a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure for your child than virtual instruction.”