Over the past few months, citizens across America have gotten easier access to different types of the COVID-19 vaccine, coinciding with a decrease in the number of cases per day. This is great news for social activities—such as schools learning environment—since we can gradually return to the original format of education. The Babylon Jr./Sr. High School decided the best way to ease back into this way of teaching was by allowing students of all grades to return to in-person classes full time (while still following all necessary procedures).
There are several new aspects of the school day which have been either added or altered. One example of a new practice would be in-person lunches returning. Before there were 3 separate lunch periods so that cafeterias wouldn’t get too crowded, but now with only one lunch block, the staff allows lunch to be eaten in various areas around the school. Another example of an alteration would be how classes with a student capacity exceeding COVID regulatory standards have been moved to larger classrooms. For the most part, one could infer that everyone has adjusted to this new format quite seamlessly. But are there seriously not any issues to be addressed?
Well for one, there are plenty of positives to having more people back in-person. Sometimes being physically present can lead to a clearer head and better ability to retain what is being taught. After asking some of my own fellow classmates how it feels to be full-time, they said that it was nice not to have to worry about possible tech issues or feeling anxious about unmuting to ask/answer a question. As for negatives, the hallways have become much more crowded with more people back, and maybe wearing a mask for 7 hours can be somewhat irritating. But with hallway travel not taking up much time and students getting to pull down their masks for an hour during lunch break, it would seem even the down sides of synchronous aren’t too bad.
Full-time isn’t the only option at BHS though. Students could choose to remain hybrid or even go full virtual, which from outside observations is something few schools on Long Island are even offering. This is technically a good thing, but reports from some students have shown that being hybrid/virtual with a majority of the students back in full-time hinders the proper learning experience. There have been several cases of teachers forgetting to start a meeting because there are so few kids online. Even when they remember, participation in class is minimal due to the limitations of being in a separate location. Despite these issues being prevalent, after asking hybrid students about their feelings concerning the system, they said they still currently preferred the half-in-half-out school day, since in-person can sometimes be tiring and stressful.
Overall, I’d say that bringing people back full time was an ambitious step, but a necessary one. BHS has certainly handled the pandemic regulations reasonably, even with a few problems here and there. Every decision comes with it’s pros and cons, and the slow return to normalcy is one worth working towards. Hopefully, next year everyone can return full-time, with the 9-period day back, and masks no longer needed.