3/23 Update: The district has announced that a return to five-day in-person learning will commence the week of April 12. Students in grades 8, 9, and 12 will attend school every day for the week, with students in other grades continuing in a hybrid model. If everything goes to plan, students in all grades will make a full return the week of April 19th. Students can also choose to remain fully virtual. The full secondary learning plan can be found here.
As more and more New Yorkers have been receiving vaccinations and nearby districts have recently returned to five-day in-person schedules, Huntington has also entered the process of considering a full return. With the CDC announcement on Friday that schools can now reduce their social distancing guidelines from six to three feet, the possibility of a five-day school week seems to loom over our heads. It’s been over a year since the last time all 1500 Blue Devils were in school together. What lies ahead, and how much has changed?
Before we get too excited about the chance of returning to how things were, it’s important to remember that there’s way more to consider than a simple yes or no. While some school districts near us have already gone back to full-time in-person learning, their situations differ drastically from Huntington, where the high school building is built to house 1000 students. With a population of 1,491 according to the class profile, we are above full capacity at full capacity. This makes the feasibility of bringing all students back into the building much more complicated. If you remember what the hallways looked like pre-pandemic, you’ll know the feeling of being squished between two other people on your way to class-not exactly social distancing.
Considering the fact that we’ve been learning virtually and in a hybrid model since last March, the adjustment to in-person curriculum is also a challenging and layered situation. Should we choose to go back to school full-time, will students still have the option to be remotely present without penalty? Will tests go back to being on paper? Will students be able to change clothes and play sports during gym class? The quick adjustment to virtual learning back at the start of the pandemic was new for students and teachers alike, and the return to “normal” school will likely also have a learning curve. It’s hard to now imagine a class being taught without Google Classroom or Kami.
On top of the practical concerns regarding a return to in-person learning, the simple fact is that most of us are nervous about going back to how things were. It’s going to be weird to see people from the opposite cohort who you hadn’t even realized were in the same class period as you. It’s going to be hard waking up early every morning and going into the building five days a week when you’re used to only being there for two or three. Even if what I’ve described was once our normal, the past year has changed our perception of learning and our perspective on school in more ways than can be said in words. The idea of going back full-time is exciting, but also stressful and nerve-wracking.
The Board of Education is having their next meeting on Monday, March 22nd, where they plan to discuss moving forward and commencing a full-time schedule. While plans for the rest of the school year are still up in the air and no one knows for certain how long it will take for life to truly return to normal, the best that we can do for now is remain positive and safe. Having endured over a year of COVID-19, at Huntington we know that we can overcome anything, even when everything is subject to change.