Kids Return to Campus, But Not to Normalcy

As the number of diagnosed COVID cases plateaus and more Americans are vaccinated, more K-12 administrators are reconvening classes in person, while educators who had already implemented a hybrid schedule during the past few months are now returning to full five day a week, everyone together on campuses. Yet returning to classrooms may be more complicated than expected with modified instructional models and ever present potential for sudden lock-downs and quarantines with any given COVID-19 outbreak. 

While many kids want to be on campus to socialize with friends and resume extracurricular activities, given social distancing guidelines both may not be possible. For those returning to campuses for the first time in a year, school populations may be split into cohorts, so students may not be placed with friends, plus at all schools, many clubs and sports are still suspended over concerns about spreading the virus.

Additionally, on campus, many teenagers seek the support of mentors, those trusted teachers, whose classrooms are a respite during lunch or where they can stop by for an impromptu conversation after school. Yet, given social distancing guidelines, lunch hours have been mostly cancelled or split, not wanting to give teenagers idle time to gather, and for some schools, becoming a transition period between morning and afternoon cohorts.  

Furthermore, many expect students’ comprehension will increase simply gathering with peers and seeing their teacher in person. However, some students who have been attending a hybrid model high school since November, still have not met their teachers in person, as teachers can elect to continue teaching remotely, so even when at school, students Zoom on Chromebooks. 

Also, in the hybrid classroom, teachers are typically on double duty, teaching students in the classroom with them, while simulcasting to those at home. Thus, students at school are still logging onto a Zoom, so the entire class can learn “together”.  Often, teachers are repeating questions or comments from one group of students to the other, reducing the spontaneity and dynamism of in person learning. 

With the addition of loud air purifiers and everyone speaking through masks, hearing a teacher’s instructions or a peer’s comments may be more difficult in person. Some students are also sitting behind three-sided plexiglass shields, while teachers instruct from behind a similar plastic shield at the front of the room, instructed not to move closer than six feet from any student, only further muting sound and potentially stymying conversations. 

Furthermore, high school students who for the past twelve months have been “freed” to direct their own learning, on their own terms, often electing to study in bed, cameras off, eating snacks whenever desired, commuting from bed to desk in the five minutes before class begins, returning to the restrictions of collective, in person learning, like requesting bathroom passes, may be irritating, requiring a reverse “culture-shock” adjustment

Lastly, an additional outbreak may occur, as proven in states already open, like Michigan and New Jersey, are reporting rising COVID cases once again. Thus, schools may shutter campuses again, suddenly scattering kids back home. Being nimble is worthy, however, some students may again elect to sit out the return to campus, maintaining continuity in their virtual learning through the end of the school year.

For more information about how Creative Marbles Consultancy can help students and parents during the transition to new educational modes of learning, contact us at Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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