Learning plan next fall

Students to choose between In-Person, Cyber learning models to start the school year


Staff Photo

Spring-Ford junior Jihan Raiyan completes an assignment in English class. Spring-Ford will offer five-day in-person and cyber options for learning next school year.

Jamie Ford, Editor-in-Chief

After a year and some odd months, our “new normal” is the norm and a transition to normal feels new.

This is especially the case in regards to Spring-Ford’s plan for the 2021-2022 school year, which if all goes according to plan will more closely resemble pre-pandemic infrastructure.

“Next school year, traditional in-person, five-day learning will be the default option for all students, with an opportunity to enroll in Spring-Ford Cyber Learning if they wish to continue learning from home,” a release on the district’s website read following April’s School Board meeting.

Spring-Ford’s implementation of this structure is in accordance with national goals, as seen by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s announcement of his cabinet’s stance on the importance of returning to school in-person in the fall.

“I expect all schools to be open full-time in person for all students,” Cardona said on MSNBC recently. “We really need to make sure students have the opportunity to learn in the classroom, and quite frankly, I’d rather have it this spring (as) students don’t learn as well remotely. There is no substitute for in-person learning.”

While some students are excited for a more traditional school appearance, others remain a bit apprehensive about a more robust return to in-person learning.

“I think virtual should still be made an option, and the yearbook photo submission from home should still be included next year,” junior Peyton Swanson said. “I don’t want to disclude anybody, and I personally don’t feel safe coming back in.”

Still, other students are more welcoming of expanded in-person learning as long as it’s done in a safe manner. The news release announcing the learning plan decision assured the district would “continue to follow local and state guidance … related to mask wearing, social distancing, contact tracing, cleaning practices, and possible exclusion from school.”

“In-person learning should still include masks for as long as possible,” junior Amanda Huxta said.

“I´m fine with (everyone being in-person) as long as they do what they´re supposed to do,” sophomore Owen Burry added.

In addition to the social benefits of a return to in-person for the majority of students, there clearly are learning benefits associated with the decision. Zoom lessons, for example, would probably be all but gone from the curriculum, easing the learning environment for everyone involved

“Teachers won´t have to worry about dividing their attention spans,” said sophomore Andrew Eross.

Chemistry teacher James Eveland adds that, while he´d be open to instructing kids virtually or in-person, “splitting your attention between two platforms is really hard,” and that there is a definite need for “proper safety precautions.”

In the midst of this concern regarding what next August brings, there are certainly upsides to congregating as a school. We’ve got pep rallies and proms to look forward to; there’s friends at lunch and friends in the halls and friends in classes; there are people in classes, with faces rather than black boxes that convey a blatant and obtrusive loss of socialization; human connections are projected to be more important than WiFi connections, and interscholastic events can take place.

“I’ll miss the extra hour of sleep, for sure,” sophomore Cameron Wilson said. “But I’m so excited to (get to a place where we can) not wear masks, and, to be honest, to eat whenever … I miss eating in class. I’m in person but I can’t do that right now.”

Whether we share apprehensions or anticipations, faith and trust can be placed on the shoulders of the School Board and the highest administrators to execute that plan which best serves our community. Still, a comparative discourse to voice well-deserved concerns will foster a sense of familiarity and empathy within our district. We’re no doubt on the road to a new new normal; preventative measures will keep us on our way to that extraordinary ordinary. We all want to tear these masks off- soon it’ll be safe to do so.