Middle School adjusts to positive cases

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Isaac Cass

As the Middle School adapts to in-person learning with Covid restrictions, there have been new rules put in place for student’s safety that had been difficult to adjust to.

Kwynne Schlossman, Web and Social Media Manager

While Upper School students have seen their share of change this year, students in the Middle School have been adapting to learning in single classrooms – and, more recently, fully remote learning. Since the beginning of in-person instruction in October, three students and two adults have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Middle School. In response the Middle School has switched to solely online learning for the last two weeks before the start of winter break. The school made the decision to close because so many teachers and staff have been quarantined and have consequently been unable to teach in person. 

Before the switch to virtual learning, middle school students found themselves in a condensed learning environment that sometimes felt distracting and confining. 

This year each middle school advisory has been assigned a classroom where nearly all of their classes are held. Unlike previous years when the students moved between different classrooms, this year the teachers move while the students stay in the same room––except for math and language classes––in order to minimize the students’ exposure to the virus for the majority of the day.  

Alex Pinnock, a seventh grader, said, “It tends to be difficult to focus since we are sitting in one place for the majority of the day, your mind can wander and you can get antsy, it would be nice to have more of a change of scenery throughout the day.”

The middle schoolers’ have limited opportunities to leave the classroom during the day; their only current free time outside is during lunch. 

Jimmy Fabian, a current seventh grader, said “During lunch we cannot really talk that much since we have to take off our masks to eat while being careful about social distancing. It’s nice being able to be with my friends though and get a break from school, outside.”

Since the students are split up by advisory, they typically do not have the opportunity to see many people outside of their five or six person groups. However, the fifth and sixth grades, as well as the seventh and eighth grades, are grouped together in two larger pods during lunch, allowing the students to socialize outside or in Strayer Hall, safely. 

Earlier this year, when the weather was nicer, some teachers modified their curriculum in order to give the students an opportunity to go outdoors. Pinnock said, “At the beginning of the year, during science, we walked down to the field and did a project. It was really nice to get out of the classroom and be outside.”

Head of Middle School Tasha Elsbach said, “We have advised the teachers to adapt and make modifications to their current curriculum to help students have opportunities to go outside and stretch their legs. We also want to make sure we allow the air to circulate so we try to have the students leave the classrooms to allow this to happen.”

Students have noticed a distinct lack of freedom in comparison to previous years. Pinnock said, “Last year, we had so much more freedom. Of course the circumstances are different this year, but it sucked that all that freedom was just taken away after a year.” 

Even still, students have persevered with a positive attitude, according to Elsbach. “We have to give credit to our students who have done so well acclimating to our new protocols, they are doing an amazing job under these circumstances,” she said.

Now having been acclimated to the changes, students have reported positive feedback on the adaptations the school has made to practice social distancing guidelines.

Seventh grader Willow Lovett said, “The school has adapted pretty well to the current circumstance that we are in.  The administration always seems open to feedback from us to hear our opinions.”