Virus continues to impact education decisions

Virus+continues+to+impact+education+decisions

Meghan Shelley, Staff Writer

As the third marking period of the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, and we enter the last few months of school, it is adequate to say the year has been a bit of a roller coaster. With virtual learning becoming a norm, and never knowing when school may be shut down, the year has been far from normal. Since the beginning of lockdown, the school has worked hard to ensure there is a healthy balance between the importance of having students in the classroom, and keeping the spread of the virus under control. With new developments constantly occurring, staff and students have seen many changes to their daily routines and have learned to adapt. Bernards started the school year in cohorts, with half days, and one purely virtual day per week. As time went on this purely virtual day was switched so that students could be in the classroom, and even later on cohorts were abolished. Now, students who chose to do so can be in school five days a week, for half days, while socially distanced and wearing masks. However, as the year comes to a close, and more teachers become vaccinated, changes may be made to make the current schedule even better reflect normalcy.

When asked how contact tracing may be impacted by the increase in teachers receiving the vaccine, Dr. Neigel commented, “If a teacher is fully vaccinated with two weeks after their last shot, they would not need to quarantine if contact traced.” He added, “Less teachers would need to quarantine, which would mean (the school) would likely not have to shut down for staffing issues.” These changes certainly make in-person school safer, and more likely. So much so that it is being suggested that full-days may once again be possible. This full-day schedule is only being considered at the moment, and would include a lunch period. Dr. Neigel commented that, “there would be many precautions put into place to allow students to safely eat lunch without masks.” However, he pointed out that “the combining of cohorts certainly impacts these procedures” since social distancing must be fully implemented, especially when students are without masks, such as during lunch. He followed up saying that it is “still to be determined” whether or not cohorts can remain combined if a lunch period was added. He reiterated that “at this point it is a conversation rather than a definitive plan…” since it is mainly dependent on how many students decide to enroll in in-person school rather than attend class purely virtually. 

As of March 17th, BHS has had four confirmed positive cases this week, (the eighty-third confirmed case of the year) resulting in a temporary shutdown from March 11th. This meant that picture day, which was scheduled to take place the 16th and 17th, was postponed for the following week. Even despite these setbacks, there is a chance that we might end the year with a semblance of normalcy. It is important to remember the school board and staff involved in making these decisions have done everything in their power, and done a commendable job, balancing safety with the importance of being in the classroom.