This past year, our entire world has been shook with the arrival of COVID-19. With no other way to stop the spread of the virus, countries placed themselves into lockdowns. In the US, unemployment rose, both small and large businesses were forced to declare bankruptcy, and the stock market fell to levels last seen only in the 2008 recession, to name a few issues created by the pandemic. Since then, recovery has been the top priority for the country. As the economy continues its bounce back, what is being done for the next generation of the workforce?
At the beginning of the nation’s lockdown, New Providence High School moved its entire curriculum online. Now that we are in a new school year, what has our school done to make the transition easier for both students and adults?
Basically, there are 6 main elements in the NPHS school re-opening plan:
Everyone in the building must be wearing a mask
COVID testing measures: prior to entering the building, all are asked questions about COVID symptoms and temperatures are taken
Hand sanitizer and desk cleaning equipment – readily available and used in the school
Desks and walkways are properly marked in order to maintain social distancing
Hybrid schedule: reduces the number of students in the school by half and provides students the option to continue their learning from the safety of their homes
Friday Folders are sent out weekly, providing updates on upcoming school events
These measures were created through the combination of state guidelines and the intuition of our own school faculty. As instructed by state guidelines, masks are worn in school, steps are taken to test that all who enter the building are COVID-free, and social distancing is practiced. Of these efforts, the largest difficulty was “maintaining the 6 foot distance,” says principal Brian Henry. The 6 foot distance is imperative for the prevention of the spread of COVID as well as for the general comfort of all in the building.
As many people at NPHS likely do, Mr. Henry believes that learning is done best when done in-person. So, in addition to the effective enforcement of safety guidelines, the school has created a hybrid schedule in order to maximize in-person learning safely. With this hybrid schedule, students and adults are given many options which help to alleviate any stress associated with the transition back to school. First, students are placed in one of three groups: A, B, and C. Groups A and B alternate between in-person school days, effectively cutting down the number of people in the school by half, and group C gives students the option to stay at the safety of their homes.
In addressing issues facing NPHS currently, Mr. Henry says that the school aims for complete transparency. This is reflected in the recent district-wide communications when students and staff in other schools in New Providence have tested positive for COVID.
Beyond these efforts, the school has created the Friday folder system for the general ease in transitioning to this new way of schooling. With Friday folders, readers are updated on any upcoming events that they may not have known about. Though a relatively small measure to be taken, Friday folders contribute greatly to the ease of the transition back to school.
“I feel that the Friday folders help me get a clearer vision of what is to come in this school year, and in general helps to avoid any stress caused by confusion,” said Jake Ponte, a group B student.
Haitham Awad, a group C student, agrees: “They are a great way to stay updated with the school and help me relieve stress about things I may be worried about.”
Overall, the successful transition back to school is truly a collaborative effort between both school faculty, students, and community.