By DEEPIKA BUDDANA ‘22, MANINDER DHESI ‘22, and NIMISHA KUMAR ‘22
As of October 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic persists and cases continue to rise. As a result, activities have been adjusted to maintain public health, with classes shifting to online programs such as Zoom and Google Meet. The transition from in-person to online to hybrid has not been easy for the Edison community; however, maintaining public health continues to be Edison’s main priority as we push through these difficulties.
Given the health concerns, reopening schools is difficult. Many school districts that opened with the hybrid model are closing again because teachers and students contracted the virus.
When asked his opinion on Edison High School’s hybrid model, Mr. Charles Ross, the principal of the school, commented, “I think there’s always going to be risk, and we’ve worked really hard to keep the risk as small as possible. We have to pay attention to the numbers and we have to trust each other as a group that we’re going to do the necessary precautions.”
In Edison High, thermal cameras were installed to track the temperature of the students coming into the building. The district is taking the necessary precautions during this time to ensure the safety of students and teachers alike, and in turn, the Edison High School community should respect these precautions.
In regards to the start of the virtual school year, teachers had to use online platforms such as Google Meet and Zoom in order to hold classes. Most classes are held over Zoom, though some teachers use Google Meet. Recently, Google Meet was updated to include new features, one being breakout rooms, which is more accommodating for classroom use.
Furthermore, Zoom has a limit of a hundred people, while Google Meet does not. However, Google Meet tends to have more issues with internet connection than Zoom, especially on the school issued MacBooks.
“I started the year with Meet because I didn’t have the time to learn Zoom, but Meet was so inconvenient in terms of breakout rooms and seeing students…I understand that they’ve made some changes…but for right now I like Zoom,” Mrs. Diane Frey, English teacher, remarked,
Despite their pros and cons, though, both Google Meet and Zoom have been extremely beneficial in connecting our community during these times.
As a result of the hybrid schedule, there have been questions raised about whether or not the curriculum would be changed to fit the shorter schedule.
“Now I am trying to think of ways that my students can have more choices so that they can complete work either online or offline. Giving options where students can do work without a computer and take pictures to upload has made me feel like students can get that break if they want. Learning is about making connections and meaning, not about a fancy computer program. I am always looking to my students to share suggestions too!” Mrs. Jennifer Przygoda, an anatomy and physiology teacher explained.
Although many teachers are assigning the same homework assignments, they are trying to modify these assignments to reduce computer usage since students are on Zoom for the entire school day.
As for whether or not the teachers are going to shorten their lessons, Dr. Bernard F. Bragen, the superintendent of Edison Public Schools, said that we as a community should focus not on the minutes of each lesson, but rather the educational value within them. Although teachers have had to make adjustments in terms of content covered and assessment, both teachers and students are making an effort to make the best out of online learning.
However, as most students have converted to online learning, which consists of not only online classes but online assignments as well, a major concern over student health has arisen. Increased screen time negatively impacts one’s emotional and physical well-being.
“I feel that students need to exercise after school. They need to get off of technology and listen to what their body is telling them. Take the time to be out in nature and have face-to-face conversations with people. I think that you can social distance outside and stay in touch with friends and family safely at a distance. I personally like campfires with friends,” Robin Connell, a physics teacher at Edison High School, commented. Although safety should be a priority during the pandemic, students and teachers must make an effort to maintain a sense of normalcy.
As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, going back to school is a matter that both students and educators are continuing to adapt to and improve upon. While the current hybrid schedule is not the most efficient nor convenient, we as a community will continue to grow from our mistakes and better adapt to the current situation.