Photo by Ola Rembiszewska
Since Oct. 15th, students have been allowed the opportunity to slowly come back into the school building. District 214 has implemented safety and health measures to try their best to help students and staff feel safe. Some of these precautions include consistent and correct use of masks, social distancing to the largest extent possible, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, cleaning and disinfection and contact tracing in collaboration with the local health department.
Junior Kiersten O’Malley chooses to stay on the e-learning program because it allows her to stay home and be extra safe. While at home, she knows more or less exactly who she surrounds herself with, excluding going to the grocery store. She also chose this because she already got used to the rhythm and expectations of e-learning.
“I have gotten used to the online option as well which I think plays a big factor as well because if I went straight to in-person it would be another switch of schedule,” O’Malley said. “I know how long it takes me to join a zoom call and if teachers generally join early.”
According to division head of student success, wellness and safety Stephen Kolodziej, BG will take a lot of initiative and steps to allow students to enter the school building in the safest way possible. Upon entering for the first time, there will be a temperature scan as well as statements students will have to go through regarding their symptoms. Students will be given a sticker to wear on their ID as well as a badge that identifies lunch hour and home room.
“Things will only be effective as those who are participating and those who are enforcing,” Kolodziej said. “It’s our hope that students and adults recognize the procedure that is put into place for everyone’s well-being and best interests.”
One of O’Malley’s concerns regarding going back to school is the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak and sanitation.
“I think this is my primary fear-being around others and the large number of students in a school setting where there are many desks and things being touched,” O’Malley said.
Many students share this common concern because they aren’t completely sure of how effective the school’s procedures will be and how seriously the students will take them.
“My concerns for going back to school is that people might get sick, and since we’re all in one area, it would be very easy to spread,” sophomore Niyati Sharma said.
To reduce the amount of students in the building, BG has incorporated the hybrid system where students are separated into three groups. Students have the option to go to school for two days in a week where they will be going in with their chosen group. Kolodziej feels like this may be a great opportunity for students looking to connect with peers, teachers and friends.
“I feel like the main thing that e-learning gives that in-person doesn’t give is that it is very independent and you get to teach yourself at your own pace,” Sharma said. “But, I don’t like that we don’t have the teachers right away to help.”
E-learning and in-person though similar in the material learned, may be very different with comfort and flexibility. While e-learning, students are in the comfort of their home and most have their cameras off if teachers don’t implement it, as opposed to e-learning where students are present with little to no distraction. Both have their positives and negatives but ultimately it is up to the student to choose their route.
“As you can see, this is something we are taking very seriously,” Kolodziej said. “And through two days of school, all students have done a great job.”