This school year, more so than any other, will definitely make the history books. School is back in session for all Forest Hills Public Schools students, and along with many other schools, Forest Hills has modified their schedules and teaching methods to protect students from the coronavirus.
Schools across the country have been propelled into exploring unexpected new ways of learning. With the best interest of students and staff members in mind, all Forest Hills high schools have established hybrid schedules. Grades nine through twelve have been split into two groups by last names: names A-L come to school on Mondays and Thursdays, M-Z on Tuesdays and Fridays, with everyone participating in virtual learning on Wednesdays. This model of school allows for many precautionary measures such as social distancing and additional cleaning on Wednesdays.
Although hybrid learning is not a new concept, it has never been executed on this grand of a scale. In our case, hybrid learning looks like a blend of remote learning and in-person classes. Many students have expressed positive and negative feelings towards the new schedule.
An anonymous Eastern student explained that switching to the hybrid schedule has been better for their mental health, stating that “only having school two days a week gives me a break from the mask-wearing, stress-inducing vibe. I actually really don’t mind the hybrid schedule.”
Kilana Vosburgh (‘21) voiced how she felt safer with this way of learning, claiming that “[she] feels a bit safer because [she’s] not coming in contact with as many people or as often as [she] regularly would.” However, the trade-off seems to be the workload. “The amount of work I’m given on virtual days is overwhelming,” Kilana claims. “It’s difficult to manage time at home in order to complete assignments by 2:10.”
An anonymous teacher addressed how teachers feel about this new instructional model, stating that they believe “school is running smoothly while only having half of the kids in the classroom. It is possible to social distance and run things safely without having to worry. With that, kids can concentrate on school rather than being too close to others. In my opinion, it is very doable for teachers.” They also explained the impact of the loss of instructional time due to the shortened days. “Ending the school day 35 minutes early causes us to lose precious instructional time, we have noticed that right away,” they claimed.
Tina Ferrer (‘22) explained her feelings of confusion on remote days, “I like that I don’t have to wake up early but I don’t like how confusing online [lessons are]. I feel like there’s assignments that are hiding from me somewhere in Google Classroom or on a class website.”
The plan is for the hybrid schedule to continue through the first four weeks of school. However, with uncertainty in hand, everything could change in a blink of an eye.