Cartoon by Lexi Perez
Cartoon by Lexi Perez
Four weeks in, and this school year has been one of uncertainty and unpredictability. The world around us is constantly in flux, and the possibility of returning to an eLearning-model looms about like an imminent gray cloud. Despite this, there are other less dire circumstances that add to the confusion as well: like any school year, we have new teachers, new classrooms and new policies. Between the multiple extended remodeling projects and a confusing covid quarantine policy, changes to the school only add to the guessing game of which direction the year is headed.
Both construction and policy change have a direct impact on student learning and teacher capability. Though it is understood that changes to the school are made with the intent to maintain an environment conducive to learning, some remodeling projects have left students confused, and teachers scrambling to teach with limited tools. Being made aware of upcoming changes or updates to the school would not only alleviate some confusion for students, but help them build a better understanding and appreciation of their learning environment.
In the past few years, there have been countless construction projects at MHS, but followed by a year of eLearning, the transformation now may seem overwhelming. Though some of these changes have had relatively little impact on how we learn, such as the repainting of lockers, others have had much higher stakes. The end of last school year and the beginning of this one is a prime example—last year a select number of English teachers’ classes on the north side of the school were characterized by boxes of all sizes lining the hallways outside of their room. As construction continued into this school year, teachers had to grapple with teaching in a room that was organized one day and rearranged the next.
Of all of the policies this year, the COVID-19 policy regarding quarantining may be the most pertinent, and the least clarified. Most students are not aware of the parameters around regular sick days, or what to do in the case that they do test positive for covid. Teachers now have gone days without hearing from a student, only to later learn they were sick, or were in contact with someone who had covid. This slightly diverges from the policy of last year, in which logging into your class via Blackboard or Microsoft Teams was automatically a given. Though the protocols surrounding COVID-19 are accessible in the district’s Back to School Plan on the district website, not many students know this. Whether they should engage in online learning in the case of quarantine has not been made clear by MHS.
To combat the confusion of this year, students and teachers should be given the chance to have a direct say in the direction of the school—opportunities such as the Superintendent Search Online Survey that was emailed to students are steps in the right direction. The changes of the last year and a half proved that the challenge of adapting to an ever changing school is a process that never truly goes away, but giving students and teachers the power to choose the environment they learn in can combat the uncertainty of the future.