A New Beginning: Phasing In

A New Beginning: Phasing In

Anavi Prakash, Reporter

Since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, teachers and school staff were not only tasked with providing a strong education to students, but also with maintaining safety during the pandemic. 

At Bay, learning modalities have switched back and forth between hybrid and all virtual. Now, however, there’s a new modality all together: four day in person school, with asynchronous Wednesdays. The virtual option will stay in place as well. 

The phase-in starts today, March 1, with the seniors. Next Monday, March 8, will bring in the freshmen, and everyone will be phased in by March 15, when the sophomores and juniors will come back four days a week. 

There are undeniable pros to in person learning, namely socially. Freshman Aby Truett says, “…the decreased amount of socializing, because of social distancing, has impacted people’s relationships both in the classroom and in public or at home.” This includes not only relationships with fellow students, but also relationships with teachers. Sophomore Bryn Dresselhuys added that now with the phase-in, she will get to see more of her B cohort friends that she “…really miss[ed]…because I didn’t get to see them as much.” 

She continued while talking about the education perspective, saying she “… liked 2 days [of in person school per week] because it allowed me to get help in person and totally be focused and [be] held accountable by my teachers to say, not be on my phone or be distracted. I got to relax a bit on my virtual days, [but] 4 day weeks will probably benefit my grades by keeping me [more] focused in class.” Focus has been very difficult when it comes to virtual learning. That means more in person learning will help those who need that extra push to pay attention get it, and a larger chance of success. Senior Erika Hammerer had the same line of thinking, saying “I think that starting to go back to school for four days a week will help students pay attention and hopefully improve grades.” Aside from focus, grades have been difficult to maintain for several students with the back and forth between learning locations, but also different methods that have had to be used to accommodate both in person and online students. 

Although socializing and learning is important, neither can happen without proper safety precautions. Many students voiced concerns about how the administration was going about things, like sophomore Hillary Paslaski, who is “…worried about the safety of myself, friends, and family. I hope the staff and school board have taken necessary precautions to protect everyone.”  Dresselhuys had concerns as well, because “…this pandemic has been really hard for me. I get pretty bad anxiety about Covid and having [more] kids in my classes might make social distancing harder. I’m really nervous about going back 4 days because I’ve been quarantined 2 times already by the school and I really don’t want to get myself or any of my classmates sick!” Social distancing seems to be the main concern, as sophomore Anna Quehl explains “…in my first period we have 28 seats and we have about 22 kids going back 4 days a week, so there is really no way to have that 6 foot distance, especially in smaller rooms.” Upon observation in hallways during passing periods, many students travel as they would in a normal year, with their friend groups, without the six feet of distance between them. It is hard to maintain that much distance when with friends, but it isn’t impossible. 

One of the biggest things that needs to happen to ensure everyone’s safety is self control when following the rules. Some, like Hammerer, “trust the educated decisions of the administrators to keep us safe.” While the trust can be there, following those guidelines and decisions made is even more important. For example, all staircases are one way now, to decrease the amount of mitigation. However, some of those one ways are not beneficial to students, especially in the English wing. Nonetheless, keeping that distance and following the stair directions is crucial if four day learning, and the increased social interaction wants to be sustained. 

Lastly, one of the most important things is how the phase-in will affect virtual learning. Although the changes won’t be completely clear until the phase-in is complete, students who have been virtual all year have started picturing the new layout. One of the biggest differences will be that only the completely virtual students will be online, while anyone who ‘hybrid’ will be in person. This is opposed to when the fully virtual and one hybrid cohort worth of students were online at a time. With this change, sophomore Anna Olsson thinks “…it will definitely be really different having a majority of students that are in person, so teachers will probably interact a little less virtually just because of the ratio of students.” It makes sense in the long run, but then there’s the fact that in person students have the advantage of being face to face with the teacher, while virtual students don’t get that kind of interaction. Therefore, there might have to be something that ensures virtual students, no matter how many there are, get the same quality, and quantity of education as well. Chan Phung, a sophomore, agrees with that, because currently, “teachers are like ‘Oh B cohort you haven’t gotten this but you will later, whereas virtual students have to pick stuff up and print stuff out’ which is hard if you don’t have resources to print or drive anywhere easily and such.” While many feel the disadvantages of virtual learning, some prefer it. Junior Anna Harris is one of those people, because she learns better “where I can control my environment,” which is at home in this case. 

Overall, the phase-in plan affects every aspect of school, and then some. Everyone wants it to be successful because it is one step closer to the norm. But to keep it, the most important thing is safety first. Everyone, students and staff, needs to make sure they are distancing themselves as much as possible, and following all other guidelines the school has put in place. If safety practices become the new norm, the stress of keeping those in mind will be eliminated, allowing students to focus even more on their schoolwork, something that is important all across the board.