The Outbreak of a New Model

By J1 Reporter Ashley Johanek

Marian students walk down the hallway.
Photo by Naomi Delkamiller.

COVID-19 cases rising. Students and teachers finally got used to the hybrid. As Marian High School Principal Mrs. Susie Sullivan observes the Marian community, she wonders if going back full time was the best option. 

“We have been keeping a very close eye on what’s happening in other schools, and we didn’t have a lot of data at the beginning of the year, but once we saw that other schools could do it successfully, we thought we needed to try,” Sullivan said. 

As of Oct. 12, Marian was able to come back for a normal five day week.  However, with cases on the rise, students had the option whether they wished to return full-time or not. “The nice thing is, they have several options as we still try to navigate this whole process,” Sullivan said. She explained how most girls preferred to come back and not deal with the difficulties of Zoom.

With doing the hybrid model for a couple of months now, everybody in the community was just getting used to it, but they were glad to be back altogether and not have to worry so much about who was in school or at home.

“I would prefer it like this if everybody was going to be here, but the reality is we’re still in a pandemic. People are still going to be on Zoom no matter what, and it isn’t so structured now,” history teacher Ms. Jessica Jordano said. She said she likes the idea of everyone back in school now, and when she would teach from Zoom, she saw the downsides of the students at home “not having that interaction and support.”

When Marian came back to a normal 5-day week of school, they bought and installed plexiglass desk shields on every desk in the school for the better protection of students. In most classrooms, a 6-foot physical distance between seats could not be followed with the full enrollment and getting the desk shields was the best idea.

 “The hearing thing is an issue [with the desk shields], but I’ve also heard Marian girls scream during Field Day like crazy,” Sullivan said. Many other students and teachers agree that it is a little more difficult now to hear one another with both the masks and desk shields, but it is better than anyone catching the virus. 

Jordano explained how sometimes she has to have students repeat themselves just because they have to talk a little louder than they usually would without the shields.

But, Sullivan did say, “I definitely heard more laughter in the hallways yesterday [Oct. 12] than I have heard since the start of the school year.” 

With this new model, Sullivan said she still receives complaints and opinions, no matter what the school does. It is difficult to control what students do outside of the building, so it is better if they can control the spread within the building. Sullivan insists that the masks will be the new normal for a while. “I anticipate this [mask] will be part of our everyday life moving forward… I think for the most part these will stay, just to be on the safe side,” she said. 

The freshman class started the school year a bit different than the other classes. At first, they only were able to meet their half of the alphabet, but now, they can meet the other half and make more friends. 

Freshman Scarlett Wharton is glad to be back. “I would prefer this because I can see everyone, but it was nice having a break every two days,” Wharton said. The hybrid model did give every student a slight break every two days as they learned on Zoom from home, but most seem to enjoy being back with their whole class. 

As Sullivan looks back on her decision, she is glad she made it. When making the decision though, she observed what the other private schools were doing before risking anything. “We talked to them as well, so we wanted to start out kind of conservatively rather than go all in and have to pull back,” Sullivan said. With starting the school year off with the hybrid model, she was able to observe how that worked instead of starting out full-time and then having to cut back to the hybrid. 

As the school continues to make this new model last, administrators remind students to remember to wear their masks, and sanitize whenever necessary. As Sullivan said, “We are social beings. We need to be around people.”

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