The new normal

Edmond+Public+schools+new+regulations+include+social+distancing+in+all+aspects+of+school+including+lunch.+

Edmond Public schools new regulations include social distancing in all aspects of school including lunch.

Rachel Weathers, Editor

It has been almost six months since the world completely changed due to the outbreak of COVID-19`. In that time, schools were shut down and virtual learning became a new phrase. 

Now, as schools begin reopening, students and teachers are learning what works best for them, in what has become the new normal. 

Edmond Public Schools has created two options for students as school resumes. 

One option is completely virtual and done at home with no in-person instruction. The other is a modified schedule where students are split into two groups, this cuts the number of students in school each day in half and allows for social distancing to occur. Both modified schedule groups have three days of online learning and two in the classroom. 

A majority of students have opted to return to the school on the modified schedule. However, many teachers and students don’t feel as though it was the safest choice. 

“I prefer in-person education, but was and still am, afraid that face-to-face instruction is going to spread the virus,” English teacher Kelly Bristow said. 

Memorial does have several precautions in place to make returning to the classroom as safe as possible for students and teachers which includes: mandatory masks, temperature checks and social distancing. However, some are worried cases of the virus will now surge as we return to the classroom. 

“Masks don’t make us invincible to the virus. It would be thousands of times safer to go fully virtual considering the pandemic is still happening,” senior Jaden Colvin said. “I’m concerned that students and even parents aren’t taking this as seriously as it should be.”

Virtual students’ classes allow them the peace of mind of not being exposed to the virus from a school setting; they also have flexibility within their school schedule. 

“I wanted to do online school because I wanted to be able to go at more of my own pace,” sophomore Stephanie Cromer said. “I can work at home and whenever I want, It leaves quite a big part of my day free.”

Virtual students take one class at a time and have six weeks to independently complete the course. 

“It is different learning online without a teacher that you can go talk to as soon as you have a question, but I’m trying to adapt,” Cromer said. 

While students still recognize the benefits of going online, many opted for the modified schedule to remain close to the classroom environment. 

“I decided not to do virtual because I can’t concentrate at home. I need a physical learning environment to learn anything,” Colvin said. 

For the modified schedule, there are much smaller class sizes this year and that brings a new set of challenges for teachers.

“A disadvantage for both teachers and students is the isolation you feel. Although we are in a classroom together, it is harder to connect to one another,” Bristow said. “We cannot smile at one another or reach out and high five each other. We are together but, unfortunately, separated by six feet.”

Beginning this year, the district has required a week’s worth of work to be submitted each Sunday at a specific time. Because of this, teachers have less flexibility in their classes.

“Giving teachers the ability to set their own due dates would benefit students tremendously,” Bristow said. “In the past students had different deadlines for work in different subjects. Sometimes, they might have a couple of assignments due on the same day, but I would venture to say they never had six assignments to turn in at the same time on the same day.”

With the new schedules and all assignments being turned in at one time, students have had to figure out new strategies to best manage their time. 

“I’ve adjusted to the new school year by setting my own schedule,” Colvin said. “I do one or two assignments from each class every day so I never have to stress about something being turned in late.” 

For the senior class, this year is a different year than anyone could have imagined. Some aspects of school and activities have been canceled to accommodate social distancing and other new regulations. 

“I think there are small things I’m missing out on like assemblies and different festivities,” Colvin said. “In past years this wouldn’t have been much to miss out on, but since this would have been my last of these activities it’s a little disappointing.”

 

Contact Rachel Weathers at [email protected]