A new normal: COVID-19 brings changes to 2020-2021 school year

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photo by Breanna Evans

Meridian students sit social distanced at lunch everyday in the Great Hall with masks on until they get their food. This was a change for students who were accustomed to freedom to sit where they want, stand in line for food, and have a variety of food choices.

COVID-19 has brought many changes to the school year, not only masks and increased hand sanitizer use…

It has brought one-way hallways, temperature checks before you enter the building, assigned seats in classes and at lunch, the need for open-minded attitudes from everyone, free lunches for students during the first semester, and teachers having to teach both remote learners and in-person students.

“The reliance on Google Classroom and not personally knowing a quarter of my students are the biggest changes,” freshman science teacher Sheila Rappé said.

At the beginning of the year, students were given the option to do in-person learning or remote learning, whichever made them and their parents feel more comfortable. This change brought stress to a lot of teachers.

“I chose to do online learning because all my friends except for one graduated already,” senior Karrigan True said.

This has also changed the way teachers are giving assignments. Teachers utilize Google Classroom, Google Meets, Zoom, Planbook, and some even use an app called Marco Polo to communicate with their online students about assignments.

“I no longer leave the building knowing I am finished with work for the day.  There is always something to organize or plan for,” Rappé said. “Relaxing outside of work is difficult without the guilt that I should be doing something for school.”

Students are pushed to work harder now.

“I have to work much harder now, more that I have had to,” junior and in-person learner Abbi Hackert said.

Many of the suggested guidelines came from the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and the local health department. School administrators, along with other institutions that have large group movements in facilities, collaborated for suggested practices based on these guidelines.

All of the set regulations for in-person learning are for all students, faculty, and visitors to follow in order to stay in-person.

“I hate the rules!” Hackert said. “I hate the one-way thing in the hallway, especially when you are sore from PE.”