Changes to the school environment

Students and staff have been working hard to adapt to the new safety guidelines the school has put into place. Despite the unfamiliar procedures everyone is making the most of the situation.

Changes+to+the+school+environment

Allana Preston and Leah Disalvo

In the halls of Lawrence North, Principal Brett Crousore wants things the way that they were. He wants to see his students smiling in the halls, not bound by the masks on their faces. With the changes in the school, adapting to it [wearing masks and social distancing] can be hard, but it is necessary, for the safety and welfare of the students.

“We are all first years in whatever role we play,” Crousore said.

The roles that we play whether that be student, teacher, parent, administrator, principal, etc, are all different and challenging, even more so this year. Everything is unusual, including many school protocols.

Athletics and performing arts are only two of the many things that are changing at LN. Students and teachers are still trying to adapt to all the new protocols. Some of the coaches and teachers are adapted, whereas some are still adapting to the new rules.

Sports have had positive and negative changes to their protocols. Some students are okay with these changes, but others think they are unnecessary.

“During lacrosse practices we are separated into smaller groups to keep everyone socially distanced,” Sophomore Trinity Smith said.

Being socially distant can help keep contact between the players very minimal. Mask wearing is also enforced at practices.

“We have to wear masks to and from practice, and there are certain protocols we have to follow, but otherwise, everything has kinda been the exact same,” Freshman Grace Vander Sande said.

Lacrosse is just one of the sports at Lawrence North that have had to make changes for these confusing times. While these changes have been difficult to adapt to, they are very important for the safety of those at LN.

Wrestling is a very contact based sport, so they are taking the right precautions as well as any other sport. For wrestling coach Jacob Aven, figuring out the new precautions was harder than anticipated.

“We have many new rules to follow on letting kids into practice and making sure it is as clean as possible. We have to take the temperatures of kids and make sure no one is having symptoms or been around anyone with symptoms. There are just a lot more rules to make sure no one is feeling sick,” Aven said.

With the performing arts aspects of Lawrence North things aren’t the same. For example, people in choir are all socially distanced and are required to wear masks while singing, even if they are outside. All band members are required to wear a mask until the moment they are playing their instrument.

Freshman Megan Fasbender is in Bella Bravada, the all girls show choir here at LN. She believes that the precautions and and the opportunities they have with Zoom and Canvas are very helpful when it comes down to students who aren’t able to come into class.

“I think show choir is doing really helpful things, like letting virtual people come in person for the class so that we don’t get behind. I also like that on Fridays we don’t do work, we just get to know each other and check in on our physical and mental health,” Fasbender said.

Some teachers allow virtual kids, like Fasbender, to come into school for certain class periods. This helps students who may struggle at home online and aren’t able to learn as well as they would in person.

Students have the opportunity to take the “All Virtual” path for their education. Over one third of the students at LN have taken this path. Other students have decided that they would like to do the “Hybrid” plan. Hybrid students come to school two days a week in person and participate virtually the other 3 days.

“For me personally, virtual learning has been an okay thing. I like the fact that I can sleep a little longer, but it does have it’s pros and cons. One pro is sleeping, of course, but one con is that I find it hard to pay attention to Zoom as I tend to get easily distracted,” Junior James Vaden said.

At first Freshman Kye Benford thought Zoom was hard to use, but now that he’s gotten used to it, he feels much better about it. He hopes that students will soon be able to make their own breakout rooms and meetings for after school hours with fellow students.

“At first I really hated Zoom, because it was hard to get used to, but now that I’ve been using it for about a month, I have gotten used to it. It can be really difficult though, sometimes. If I had a suggestion [to make things easier], it would be to let the Chromebooks have more access to Zoom, like recording and letting us make our own breakout rooms, if we want to do Zoom after school on our own,” Benford said.

There are mixed feelings about virtual learning throughout the student body. Hybrid learning also has its own set of pros and cons.

“I hope that at home, teachers will create lesson plans that don’t have to be watched. Because when a teacher shows an educational movie that I need to take notes on, I’m not always able to, because my wifi glitches or I can’t hear what they’re saying. For in school, I just hope that they lessen the workload because trying to balance work and sports is hard when I’m given an assignment for each class everyday,” said Fasbender.

As some people seem to struggle with virtual learning other people seem to be okay with it. Staring at a screen all day isn’t ideal, but it’s still a better option than not going to school at all.

“Personally, I don’t mind it [virtual learning], but I am finding it’s taking a toll on my work effort. The last thing I want to do after staring at a computer screen for 7 hours a day is do more work. I find I’m more tired after an online day than an in school day, and I know my peers are relatively the same,” said Vander Sande.

Social, emotional learning or Flex block was put into place to help students with their mental health and personal growth. While to some people it might just be a joke, flex can be very helpful to those who need or want help. Some feel that flex block isn’t the solution for them, but other students are more comfortable with it.

“I think the flex days are kinda nice but also fully not necessary, but I think it’s nice because it’s only 30 minutes long and it’s not an actual class first thing in the morning so it kinda gives you time to be more awake. I also like the teacher that I have, so it makes it more enjoyable,” Smith said.

Some students think flex is unnecessary but still enjoy the half hour they have just to relax and be able to wake up and get ready for the day. Some students think flex is altogether unnecessary.

“Flex class isn’t needed because we already have counselors if students need to talk about something and we don’t really do much in the class,” Benford said.

This year things are different not only for students but also for teachers. Teachers are struggling to adapt to all the new changes. Math teacher Anthony McCord is struggling to adapt to the changes. He believes that the technology is affecting how well he is able to teach.

“I do not enjoy the technology. I believe it is a wonderful tool, but to rely on technology for everything is affecting my teaching. As a math teacher it is important to know how students are handling the concepts, and I cannot monitor them effectively if I cannot see their work,” said McCord.

There are new technological tools to learn this year for students and teachers. Even with the new tools there are limitations and people still have to learn how to use them.

“What we’ve never done is reprovide our student body with professional development on how to use all of this technology. We are assuming you guys know how to use it,” Crousore said.

For some it is easy, but for others, not so much. Staying focused and doing what they’re told can be difficult when they aren’t actually in front of the teacher. There are lots of distractions in homes and it can take away from the learning experience here at LN.

“I think virtual learning is great for those with great time management and self-discipline. I think it is very challenging for those who struggle with staying focused. Zoom is great overall, it allows distance learning kids to get live information easily. Breakout rooms are awkward, especially at first, but they are a great collaboration tool,” said art teacher Nicole Hopf.

This year is definitely different, but all the staff are trying to make sure that the students get proper education, during times like COVID-19. During this global pandemic, teachers have many struggles to engage and educate students.

“One big thing right now is, I want to get my students back smiling. The days we went out to the football field, and I know it wasn’t a lot, but the number of kids that laughed, played kickball, and just had fun was very encouraging to see. And I know that it feels like I’m always telling people to ‘put your mask up and stay apart’, it’s not that I want to have to say that, it’s just I want us to get to a new normal, and still be able to let kids smile.” Crousore said.