Cohorts combine after 5 months


Shane Rich, Editor-in-Chief

Bernards High School continues to work towards in-person learning and, starting Marking Period 3, the administration has decided to combine the A-K and L-Z cohorts into one whole in-person cohort. 

In his letter to address the families of BHS, Principal Dr. Neigel explained, “Any students in the combined in-person cohort will be able to attend school 5 days a week, starting on Tuesday, February 16 through Thursday, April 1.” Dr. Neigel feels this is beneficial for Bernards, and said, “Combining cohorts will allow for students who benefit from being in-person for school to attend 5 days a week.” He also added, “The decision was made as more and more students went all-virtual, and our class sizes became so small, that it wasn’t necessary to split into two cohorts,” adding “Our district physician agreed that we could safely bring the two cohorts together with enough space for proper social distancing.”

The change of hybrid students now coming to in-person school has much to do with the large number of students that favored this idea. As the administration sent a survey out to families in the beginning of February, the administration was “pleased” to find the number of students that wanted to return to in-person classes 5 days a week. As that wish from students continued to grow, the administration moved forward with this idea. 

Dr. Neigel adds a majority of families wanted to make this change. “When I surveyed families of students who were attending school in a hybrid cohort, 77% of families indicated that they wanted their student to attend school 5 days a week,” said Neigel. 

With more than half of the students at BHS opting to go all-virtual, this leaves the school with a little under 50% of students electing to attend in-person school for the 5 day plan. The Administration calculated the number of students who would be present in each section to ensure that there would be adequate classroom space to socially distance all students in attendance.

“We have been discussing next steps in expanding in-person instruction since the beginning of the school year, so when the numbers got to the point that we could combine cohorts, and we saw there was support for it, we made the change.” says Dr. Neigel. His last comment had shown gratitude to those in the Bernards High School community: “The feedback I have received so far has been overwhelmingly positive from students, staff, and parents.”  

Based on survey results, 55% of students are comfortable with the decision to attend school 5 days a week.

In favor of returning to school 5 days a week, John Tober ‘24 feels that “Going in person is essential for us to get a proper education. Virtual school isn’t effective for students no matter what the school does in my opinion and it also is terrible for our mental health. Going 5 days a week allows us to learn almost as effectively as we were before the pandemic and the return to normality will be great for our mental health.”

On the other hand, Shannon Adamson ‘21 does not support the decision. She said, “I think this is such a dumb decision. We do not have vaccinations, most of the teachers don’t either and most of the students don’t even show up to class anymore. I would so much rather just be home all the time than go in 5 days a week. We already get more work than we did before and now it will be worse. I can’t stand going in person.” 

Spencer Saltz ‘24 adds, “I think hybrid is working, the change seems unnecessary.”

Some students question the decision for Bernards to return to a 5 day in-person schedule, as neither students, nor most of the staff, have been vaccinated. 28% of students felt that BHS should be looking to make the change to 5-days but not at this time. 

Meghan Corbett ‘22 expressed her confusion, “If we, as in our and surrounding towns, are still having cases of COVID popping up, why would we combine cohorts and go 5 days a week? That will greatly increase the likelihood of this virus to spread. I get that we should be in school, but it just isn’t worth it.”

 In an effort to return to normalcy, Bernards High School looks to continue to make progress during the current pandemic. The 5 day a week in-school schedule will begin on Tuesday, February 16, following President’s Day. Students looking to change to the in-person cohort will be allowed to do so following Spring Break.