Due to the coronavirus, schools have had to make many adjustments in order to allow students and teachers in the buildings. While prioritizing health and safety, school districts all over the country tried to come up with safe and effective ways to open schools. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in late July that schools may open in September, districts worked on finalizing their hybrid plans. Every school had to follow guidelines from the state, but most were able to set up a hybrid system around those restrictions. Blind Brook ultimately decided that it would be best to have two cohorts- one going in on Monday and Tuesday, and another going in on Thursday and Friday. The whole district would be online on Wednesday, giving the school time to be cleaned and giving students an opportunity to engage with classmates in a different cohort.
Everyone was nervous, but excited, when hybrid learning at Blind Brook started on September 21st. The cohorts were determined by geography, because kids who live near each other are more likely to carpool or go to each other’s houses. It also makes the bus routes less time consuming than if the bus had to pick up students with last names in a specific range. It is important that there are less students in the building each day to allow space for social distancing. There are many people who would prefer that everyone was in the building on the same days, but having two different cohorts is the safest option.
Hybrid learning has been a big adjustment for all the teachers at Blind Brook. Teachers not only need to focus on the kids in the classroom, but also the kids at home. In order to make sure both in school and online students are learning, some teachers make two different assignments. One assignment is designed to complete asynchronously while the other is designed to be completed synchronously inside the classroom. Teachers also have to rely on technology to teach kids in and out of the classroom. Ms. Cuevas, a physics teacher, stated, “When relying on technology a lot can go wrong.” With all of the different apps and websites being used, it is extremely common for teachers to have technical difficulties. One issue with technology that occurs is when the wifi is weak, and it is hard to get a good signal on Zoom. Students have been kicked out of the meeting because their wifi does not always have the strongest signal. When relying on technology, there are always going to be issues.
This system has also been a big adjustment for students. Since they are only in the classroom two days each week, most teachers schedule quizzes and tests on these two days. 11th grader Johnny Ramirez claimed, “When needing to prepare for multiple tests on the same day, it can be extremely stressful, especially as a junior.” Since it is very difficult for teachers to schedule tests on different days, one occurrence that may result is a student taking as many as three tests in one day. In order for this to not occur, teachers would need to give tests while students are at home, which may be complicated.
Learning at home is very different from learning in school, and there are many consequences to being at home all day. Although Zoom is the closest thing to a real classroom environment at home, being on the platform all day can be very wearying. Zoom fatigue is a real problem, because looking at a computer screen all day can make it hard to concentrate. Junior Josh Rosenblut said, “Sometimes it is easy to be distracted while working at home.” Having trouble getting work done due to distractions is a problem that many students struggle with. The best way to focus at home is to create a designated space for school, and eliminate as many distractions as possible.
Although hybrid learning may not be the most liked way of learning, it is the best compromise for now. With safety being the priority, everyone who is working and learning in the school must learn to deal with what is best healthwise. Hybrid learning is absolutely necessary until the pandemic ends and life goes back to normal.