By Kristina Biel
Wake up, get dressed, brush teeth, do hair, pack bags, grab a mask, then wait for the bus. Wait – it’s Wednesday. So then you have to unpack your backpack and get ready for online school.
As an 11th grader in this pandemic, school can be… different. First of all, we don’t have in-person classes on Wednesdays; instead, we log on to a virtual meeting website called Webex. All 285 high school students, grades 7-12, are at home in their study spaces, seeing their teachers and classmates on the screen. We’re hearing lectures, seeing notes and presentations on the whiteboard or blackboard, hearing literature read, all while separated from our school family. Although it is different, I enjoy having the day at home.
We also are split into two groups, Group A and Group B. Group A goes to school on Mondays and Tuesday, then has the rest of the week online. Group B has in-person classes Thursday and Friday and has online classes Monday through Wednesday.
In school we also have to wear masks all day in all areas, even outside or in P.E., with the exception of eating lunch, drinking water, or playing instruments during band. Surprisingly, the switch was hard only on the first and second day. Now by three months in, many of my peers and I are used to it.
Going to class in-person is mostly normal; we get to our classes, the teachers sanitize our hands with hand sanitizer made from Harmony Spirits, and we sit in our assigned seats. Notes are mostly written on our own, instead of receiving papers that we just fill in the notes. After class has ended, we leave for our next period while the teachers sanitize our desks for the next class.
Secondly, we switched back from having eight class periods all year (only switching one or two elective classes during second semester), to having four classes and switching all of them second semester.
Our middle block with lunch, choir, band, and study halls is the same. But actually, some segments are very different.
You probably are wondering what about those students in choir and band, and more specifically, what do they do about masks? Well, thanks to a whole bunch of generous donors, our choir teacher was able to purchase special masks that make it easier to sing in. They have wiring in them that keeps the cloth away from our faces!
The choir has moved to the Greenfield Lutheran Church. The choir rehearsals were held in the varsity gym, but we couldn’t hear anyone and it was really hard to harmonize. Our band and choir teachers, Mr. Ledin and Mrs. Holten made the best of the situation, and it really is amazing.
For band, to social distance, we have moved from the band room to the stage gym. In band we have to social distance and only take off our masks whilst playing our instruments. We also are not supposed to empty the spit on the gym floor; it should go in the garbage.
Lunch has also changed too! We all cannot eat in the cafeteria. We are separated into different pods supervised in different teachers’ classrooms. Sometimes we eat in the classrooms, but on nice days we can eat on the large picnic tables that were generously loaned to us, outside in the parking lot. Our teachers work together to rotate pods so we can eat in the cafeteria (with only three students at each table), but normally it’s outside or in the classrooms.
The drinking fountains are off – we have to bring our own water bottles and carry them with us all day, but we do get to bring our backpacks into the classrooms, which is a new policy. Two stairwells are marked, one for down only, and the other for up only. The rules prohibiting hats and hoods have been relaxed.
At the end of the day, we go home. I take the bus, and the bus riders are dismissed three minutes early to socially distance in the hallways and stairwells. Others get rides from family or drive themselves. The bus company has also taken precautions; for example, they are stricter on the no eating and drinking rule. We also can only sit with those members of our own families. On my bus the seat behind the bus driver is also off limits, and the drivers all wear masks. The busses have a limit of 34-36 kids on each bus, and while on the bus, we have to keep our masks on the entire time.
That is it – that is what my school day was like in 2020. We students are now doing full-time online classes from November 17 to December 4, until a decision is made whether to continue full-time online learning, or go back to hybrid or maybe even full-time school. Personally, I will be happy if we go back to learning in the school, even if it has to be hybrid learning.
Kristina Biel is a student at Fillmore Central High School. She is one of nine area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 22nd year.