The response to Covid-19 has varied among countries around the world, and we are now seeing who has been successful and who has failed to effectively manage the spread of the disease.
Kenya: 34,705 cases and 585 deaths (population: 51.39 million)
The first case was reported on March 13, 2020. Soon after, President Uhuru Kenyatta implemented several measures with hopes in reducing transmissions. All schools were closed, and people began working from home, the exception being those providing essential services. The government also created a plan for the inevitable financial hardships people would face in the upcoming months, including 100% tax relief to Kenyans earning 228 USD and below. Muhati Kagwe, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for health, announced a 7pm-5am curfew on March 25. The effort to control the disease in Kenya has been criticized for the government “demanding obedience rather than seeking consent.” Officers used brutality and arrest, under the pretense of enforcing social distancing rules, which has expanded the opportunity for the extraction of bribes. Police have forced citizens into crowded jail cells and vans and arrested motorists for not wearing masks, even when they are the sole passenger in their vehicle. Families have been dragged from their homes for not wearing masks indoors. The government has been censured by its people for treating Covid-19 as more of a problem of law and order than as a public health issue.
Sweden: 84,985 cases and 5,835 deaths (population: 10.23 million)
Sweden’s response has sparked controversy as they managed to flatten the curve without ever implementing a full-scale lockdown, but their death toll is much higher than its Scandinavian neighbors. Sweden had 567 deaths per million, while Finland had 59 deaths per million and Norway had 47 deaths per millions. While Swedish authorities never officially stated that herd immunity was the goal, they argued that by keeping society open, citizens would develop a resistance to Covid-19. However, according to the Swedish Public Health Agency, only 6% of the population is known to have antibodies. At the beginning of the outbreak, daycare facilities and elementary schools remained open, and businesses and restaurants operated at reduced hours. Masks were never required, and only gatherings of more than 50 people were banned. The Swedish government described the pandemic as a “marathon, not a sprint,” while health experts have argued against this mentality as it fails to address how quickly the virus can spread.
New Zealand: 1764 cases and 22 deaths (population: 4.886 million)
Prime minister Jacinda Adern began implementing a Covid-19 response plan in February. The government announced border-control policies and hospitals began preparing for an influx of patients. Despite the small islands geographic isolation, tourists and students arrive from Europe and China every year. The first case of Covid-19 was diagnosed on February 26. The country originally used a mitigation strategy, but due to insufficient testing and contract tracing capacity, they switched to an elimination strategy. On March 26, the government enacted a country wide lockdown. After 7 weeks of a national stay at home order, the last known case was found and the patient was put into isolation. Even at its peak, New Zealand only had 89 cases a day. On June 8, the government moved to alert level 1 and all restrictions were lifted except for border control, 103 days after the first case. While 2 cases were found in June after two women from the UK were allowed to break quarantine to visit a dying a relative, extensive contact tracing is being done to contain this outbreak. The government has instituted a spending program for businesses and has supplemented the incomes of people facing financial instability, but the economic costs are still visible. Foreign tourists and workers stimulate the economy, and with closed borders, people are questioning how long it can survive without this vital consumption and production. Despite this, New Zealand and the leadership of Acern, have been hailed as an example the rest of the world should follow.
William Howe '21
For good reason, returning to school this fall will not be, and in some cases, has not been simple. As schools try to figure out how to approach the challenge of resuming classes in the backdrop of a pandemic, it is important to understand the consequences of any given plan. Public figures like Anthony Fauci elaborated to no end on what the consequences of returning to school in person would be (or have been), but what are the objective results of children not attending school?
Predictably, the outcomes of not sending children to school are undesirable. At young ages, school serves as a social network in which children learn important behaviors and skills for participation in society as they grow older. Without the structure of school, children can become permanently antisocial (which is in fact a negative, as opposed to introverted, which is simply a characteristic) or even aggressive. As children get older, school begins to serve a different purpose. It shifts from a socially-oriented experience to an intellectual one. The process of learning foments key neurological developments, and education in general is vital for success later in life. To be sure, schooling continues to impart lessons of behavior and socialization on students, but it combines this role with that of education. One fact that is especially important in low income communities is that failure to attend classes can cause an elevated risk of gang activity, substance abuse, and general criminal behavior. Psychologically, this elevated risk arises from boredom, which both statistically and anecdotally produces no desirable ends for high school aged individuals. All of these factors are ignoring the legal ramifications of not attending school, which are in their own right severe. School can also provide mental health resources which are otherwise unavailable to students.
Those who chose not to attend school are not only forgoing their own education and future opportunities (and potentially much needed capital for their families), but they may also condemn their own children to a similar fate. According to one research article, parents’ involvement in their children’s learning is critical, and should one’s parents have an insufficient background in school, they may be unable to contribute to their child's education. These generational consequences are only exacerbated by the increased potential for poverty due to lack of opportunity.
Sadly, the solution to our current situation is not as simple as “oh, not going to school is bad? Well that’s easy! Let’s just go to school!” One would be hard pressed to find a single person who would argue for the shutdown of schools absent extant coercive circumstances. Luckily, our educators seem to have found a solution that incorporates the best of both safety and schooling: online classes. “Seem” is the keyword in the previous sentence as often online education falls through. In the District of Columbia, for example, an estimated 30% of public school students lack internet access, meaning they effectively will not attend school in any format this fall.
So, what happens when children and teens don’t attend school? The likelihood of mental illness, substance abuse, and general crime skyrockets, and they may impose more difficult circumstances on future generations. Nobody can provide an objectively correct solution to our back-to-school problems, but knowing the possible consequences of various proposals is crucial.
David Donoghue '21
April 23, 2019. On that day, Dr. Labaree and Mr. Chandler sent out an email announcing St. Alban’s School’s plan for the rest of the virtual school year. A key tenet of this plan was “Respite Wednesday,” a day off in the middle of each week to stop students from overexposing themselves to harmful screens and blue light. The National Cathedral School did not have Wednesdays off; rather, they had a series of classless days throughout the fourth quarter where they had programming on various topics such as mental health. Almost no Respite Wednesdays fell on the same day as the NCS programming days.
This difference in NCS and STA schedules led to many days where NCS students had to choose between going to the programming or their St. Albans class. Similarly, STA students often had to either go to NCS classes on Respite Wednesdays or not. These differences were surely the product of St. Albans and NCS not having ample time to prepare for the Coronavirus, as nobody did. Once summer arrived, students weren’t sure whether or not we would return to school in the Fall, or to what extent. In early August it was announced that we would return to school in a “Remote-Plus” fashion, with virtual academics and some in person social and athletic time.
Once we received the STA and NCS plans, it was revealed that not only would there be no coordinate classes for at least the first semester, but also that there would be no in-person coordinate activities such as athletics, singing, or theater for the whole year. Due to this, theater productions will be virtual for the whole year, and I suspect that the other arts and classes will go with it.
As a student involved with many coordinate activities on the Close, I am a little disappointed by the lack of an explanation, and I’m sure many of you feel the same. After comparing the STA and NCS schedules, the only similarity is that the previous 7-day rotating schedule that both schools shared has been converted to two five-day ones. Thing is, they bear almost no resemblance to each other. Saint Albans starts at nine, and NCS starts at eight. NCS has an active version of Respite Wednesday in place, where they have social activities and an ensemble slot in place of classes. Saint Albans has normal classes on Wednesday. Saint Albans has ensemble time built into office hours. NCS has it during the school day. In this virtual schedule, there is absolutely zero time during the school day for coordinate classes, programs, or anything.
I’m sure Saint Albans and NCS tried to line up their schedules, but here’s my question: What caused the two schools’ schedules to be so drastically different, with no shared time that I could spot. To me and many others, the coordinate aspect of Saint Albans and NCS is one of my favorite parts of the experience. It makes the single-sex schools not feel as socially isolated as one would expect.
I understand the health arguments in favor of separating the schools once we return in person, but I’m not sure I understand how effective they’ll be. Many families have children at both schools, so there will be germs, sickness, etc. floating between the schools once we first return in a cohort model. Furthermore, what if the cohorts aren’t synced up? Siblings could prove to be an Achilles heel of the cohort model, as their existence would tear down the walls that are supposed to be put between the immune systems and germ pools of the groups.
If I had the choice to sacrifice coordinate activities in order to return to school completely normal apart from that, I think that almost anybody on the Cathedral Close would do it in a heartbeat. This is not to say that they are unimportant—quite the opposite—but it would be a small price to pay in order to go to a class or see my classmates anywhere but next to that dreaded ZOOM logo.
I hope I’m missing something, and that there is a good reason for the drastically different schedules sitting in front of me. If I’m missing something, please shoot me an email (email@example.com) or leave a comment so that everyone can know, because I’m not completely convinced as of now. The strangest thing is that, if there is a miracle drug that allows life to go back to normal quicker than we expect, that wouldn’t fix this problem at all; our schedules would still be different. As dramatic as it is to say, I can only reach one conclusion given the chasm between St. Albans and NCS this year: The downfall of coordinate activities might not be the Coronavirus, but the drastically different plans laid out by St. Albans and NCS.
Nicki Anyanwu '22
The back-to-school season usually feels like a fresh start to students across the globe; sadly, as an African American woman in 2020, I cannot relate. This summer was not refreshing nor relaxing for me in any way. Following George Floyd’s murder, a sudden cloud of grief and attention to the “Black Lives Matter” movement descended upon the United States. Many conflicting emotions were sparked within the Black community, and these emotions fuel much of the racial tension we feel today. Fortunately, I have the privilege of using this platform to address the unique tensions which form at a predominantly white (educational) institution (PWI)- or moreover a catalyst for these tensions.
Let’s get this straight: both NCS and STA got off to a rocky start when it came time to voice their support for BLM and, inherently, black students/ faculty; a lot of responsibility fell on students’ shoulders- Black students, of course. After NCS’ initial attempt at comforting black members of its community via virtual cathedral prayer failed, members of NCS’ Black Student Union initiated immediate and long-term institutional change for the benefit of POC students. It was daunting, the fact that we had to initiate systemic and institutional change as Black youth, but at least administration listens to us. We feel comfortable talking to adults like Dr. Brown-Allen and Sue Bosland, but I don’t think I can say the same for Black students at STA.
My problem with STA’s response wasn’t its nature, but more so that it came at the behest of disheartened students. News of a “Virtual Spring Music Festival” came before any display of empathy for the Black Community, and students across the close had to comment on this particular Instagram post before their pain was acknowledged. STA isn’t the “most white” private school in the US, but it’s definitely behind the curve in its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts.
I’d even argue that NCS sets an example for STA in how to treat minority students in a PWI. Louisa Kean ‘22, Julia Sherman ‘22, and I have moved to create WARAC, a white antiracist ally club, which should combat racism and general ignorance on the close; NCS administration was, of course, ecstatic to hear of our plans. Julia and Louisa are clear on the fact that racism isn’t a problem that people of color (POC) created nor need to resolve. This demonstration of ally ship is the reason why I stay at NCS; it’s just embarrassing that such tragedy had to strike before we took action as a community.
An institution’s response during a time of crisis defines it, and I empathize with any students of color who currently feel marginalized in PWIs. Is repressing your Blackness worth a high-quality education? Must we wait until after high school to feel seen and heard? Everyone’s waking up to the hardships that Black students face every day, and our schools shouldn’t be dragged along for the ride. They should rise up with us; otherwise, we Black students truly have no place on the close.
Spencer Hall '23
Over the course of 2020, one factor has been a constant burden: COVID-19. It has caused every type of inconvenience imaginable. The virus has also created new norms of Zoom calls, staying home, and wearing masks. While I was eating inside of a restaurant for the first time in months, I felt out of place sitting at the table because I’d gotten so used to takeout and UberEats. This new norm that we all are adapting to has been hard to adjust to. However, there is still reason to hope amidst all of the unrest caused by the virus.
The most promising development that has occurred over the summer is that nation-wide case numbers are finally decreasing. Although test rates are decreasing as well, the steeper drop in case numbers does prove that the health situation in the United States is improving. Along with case numbers, positive test rates and hospitalizations are dropping as well. These decreases seem to have occurred because of President Trump’s endorsement of masks, creating a nationally unified message about their importance . In doing this, Trump has given people, most importantly skeptics of the virus, a reason to listen to the messages that the CDC has been broadcasting to the public for months. Hopefully, folks hesitant to comply with health guidelines will continue to follow Trump's example, allowing for cases to drop even lower than their current numbers.
While Trump’s administration has been bashed for the seemingly exponential growth of cases and deaths in the United States since the pandemic began, it has begun to take action in order to reopen schools as safely as possible. While reopening schools needs to be done in a cautious manner as to not allow for cases to rise again, individuals benefit from being among their peers and teachers. The connections among peers and with teachers is something that cannot be replicated through a computer screen, as students are more motivated to learn and can better learn from those around them while in person . These benefits have led the administration to pledge to ship 150 million rapid tests, which yield results in as little as 15 minutes, by the middle of this month. These tests, according to Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, detects positive cases accurately 97% of the time, a figure that will help public health officials sleep at night . This promising pledge, coupled with the fact that vaccines for the virus are entering higher phases of testing, provides a sense of promise that students who are attending school virtually, including us on the close, may soon be able to attend school in a fuller capacity.
Finally, 172 countries are currently discussing participating in the COVAX initiative with the aim of distributing vaccine doses to both developed and developing countries. It is imperative to deliver doses to the poorer nations of the world because it is these populations which would have a difficult road to funding independent vaccine research. Through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, 92 lower and middle income economies will participate in the initiative without economic stress, which currently possesses the most diverse vaccine portfolio, consisting of nine vaccines with another nine currently being evaluated. Of the nine vaccines that are currently a part of COVAX’s portfolio, seven have reached clinical trials, inching ever more closely to releasing one for public use . This development marks a true global commitment to slowing the spread of COVID-19, an effort that has been long overdue. The quicker a vaccine can be used by the general public, the quicker we may be able to return to some sense of normalcy in the future.
Despite the constant negativity surrounding us in the news and media, there are causes for hope. The national health situation is improving overall, and the world is coming together to find a way to subdue this virus. All in all, the circumstances we find ourselves in are what you make of them. Amidst the pandemic and restrictions, enjoy and appreciate the opportunities to see and connect with people, and find ways to see the light during these dark times.
Alyssa Bui '23
For many, fall sports tryouts and preseason mark the end of summer, taking place during the last two weeks of August. Student athletes dedicate hours of hard work during these weeks to ready themselves for the upcoming fall season, but this year, things looked different.
On July 23rd, NCS Director of Athletics, Heather Dent, sent out an email updating parents and students on sports for the 2020-2021 school year. The email stated that both preseason and tryouts were canceled, but that NCS athletes would still participate in the Independent School League (ISL). It also contained a statement issued by the ISL. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, student athletes have had their sports seasons compromised due to health regulations. As we look towards the new school year, we’ve all been wondering “what happens in the fall?”. Now, the ISL offers an answer: nothing.
The ISL wrote that the 2020 fall sports season would be postponed, and that “[they] hope to resume league competition in January and to provide an interscholastic athletics experience for students in all sports, if possible”. How will this be achieved? The ISL hopes to operate with three shortened competitive sports seasons, each being about 6 weeks long. Equally strange, league competitions will begin with winter athletics, followed by the fall and spring seasons. The ISL’s plan for the 2020-2021 academic year is consistent with that of the DC State Athletic Association (DCSAA), which NCS also competes in. The DCSAA announced its own Condensed Interscholastic Plan for 2020-2021 earlier this summer on July 16th.
For NCS students, athletics play a central role in daily life. Those on competitive teams commit over 10 hours a week to practice, condition, and compete. Because of this large time commitment, teammates forge a strong sense of community. Personally, this sense of community is one of the main reasons why I, like many others, love being on a school team.
Likewise, Kendall Brady ’23 says that being a part of NCS’ cross country and swim team made her feel “plugged-in” to the school community as sports is one of her “most social times of [her] day”. To Brady, sports have become such a huge part of her day that she even stated: “I don’t think I could see what my day would be like without sports”; unfortunately for her and the rest of us, we’ll be having to see what a day without our usual school sports is like in the fall semester.
In the meantime (as of August 28th), some fall sports that usually meet in the summer like crew and cross country have made efforts to prepare for the upcoming seasons. For other fall sports such as volleyball, tennis, soccer, and field hockey, preseason and tryouts seemingly have to wait until after the winter season and when we’re back on campus. Remember to keep an eye on the NCS Close Apart website for updates by the Athletic Department.
With NCS going virtual for the start of the academic year, ISLs are still on the table much to the shock and delight of students. However, some students think that it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to return mid-October, as the school suggests. Others are more optimistic; student athletes hope that we’ll be back on campus for the New Year, just in time for sports. This year will be a unique and strange one in the sense that in-person sports, a graduation requirement, have been eliminated from our daily lives until, at best, January
Sasha Perkins '22
Since I was an toddler, I have loved to dance. I was so excited to take ballet class and put on my first pair of pink tights and pink ballet shoes to fit the image of what I thought was a “real ballerina”. Only recently have I broken away from the racist idea of what a ballerina looks like, which is perpetuated by posters and videos immortalizing a thin blonde version of a dancer. As I progressed through the levels of my school and was fortunate enough to leave the comfort of my home studio for summer intensives around the country, I realized that there are very few ballerinas who looked like me. When my school requires me to wear pink tights that match the skin color of my white classmates, they widen the racial divide. Only in the last few months have I been able to find pointe shoes that come close to the color of my skin so that I can achieve the clean lines that ballet demands. Even with the resources to complete my new image of a “real ballerina”, choreographers and ballet masters of productions such as “Swan Lake” claim to require a unified corps, or body, of white swans which does not include dancers of a darker complexion because they “break the harmony of the graceful cohort”. Many of the expectations of what a ballerina looks like are perpetuated and accepted because there is not enough representation or variation from the traditional archetypes of ballet.
With conversations about race in ballet not even in their infancies yet, the realities and inequalities that I and other dancers of color face in dance only now dawn on our white counterparts. So far, efforts to bridge the racial gap in ballet companies are performative. Slapping a paragraph on equity and inclusion on their websites and participating in #blackouttuesday are only some examples of modest, cosmetic attempts by companies that wish to keep in the good graces of their wealthy, mostly white, donors. Additionally, very few academies in the US have altered their rigid uniforms for ballet students from requiring light pink tights to allowing them to wear tights closer to their natural complexions. The lack of flexibility in uniforms only reinforces the ballet world’s history of exclusion. After all, ballet was developed in the courts of King Louis XIV, who was notorious for his absolutist ideals and rigid hierarchical social structures which are mimicked by the rankings of ballet companies.
When I go into the studio, or on zoom, every day to practice the same repertoire rehearsed by generations of dancers before me, I am reminded that ballet is a conservative art form. One that has only recently opened its gates to ballerinas of color. The only way to dismantle the exclusionary practices of ballet is for dancers and donors alike to pressure their institutions to take real action to complement their performative efforts.
Most recently, A Ballet Education’s Magazine featured four black dancers on the cover of their September issue for “A Celebration of Black Women in Ballet”. Although this is only a symbolic effort of diversity and inclusion, showcasing and praising the increasingly heterogeneous demographic of dance gives younger ballerinas people to aspire to who reflect themselves. Only with continued dialogue about race in dance can more images of ballerinas of color be immortalized as the model ballerina in addition to blonde archetypes already established. The last few months of conversations have allowed me to restore my faith in ballet and be confident that another generation of black ballerinas, like me, can pursue their love for dance this school year without the fear and anxieties of exclusion.
Nisa Quarles '21
COVID-19 has certainly been on many people’s minds lately, but there’s another daunting c-word in circulation: college. As colleges and their students are struggling to make decisions about opening campus and restarting classes, many high school seniors are struggling to embark on their college application process in the absence of normal opportunities, such as standardized testing and in-person campus tours. COVID has also consistently exposed and even augmented disparities and inequalities in a variety of sectors and institutions, and college has been no different.
According to a New York Times survey of 1500 American colleges and universities, as of August 26, 2020, 750 colleges have reported approximately 26,000 COVID cases on their campuses since the beginning of the pandemic. Thousands of these cases are the result of a recent spike as colleges have tried to reopen their campuses. These spikes have forced some schools, like Notre Dame, to delay classes, and others, like the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, to close campus again and send students back home. The number of cases may also be higher than this survey indicates because some colleges did not or refused to report numbers. Additionally, because of the lack of national tracking infrastructure, the numbers are based on the individual college’s report methodology and standards which may have skewed the results of this survey.
Off campus, colleges face more questions about how they will proceed with the upcoming admissions cycle. Students and athletes want to and have been preparing to show schools their best work and athleticism, but lots of these chances are now limited or completely gone. At the same time, colleges, scouts, and coaches want to build talented, competitive student bodies and team rosters, but the systems that they have traditionally used to do that now have to adapt to the current situation. For example, The Washington Post reported back in April 2020 that SAT and ACT cancellations and delays left approximately 1 million then high school juniors unable to get a standardized score. In response to these testing cancellations and delays, many colleges, including Tulane University, Northeastern University, Texas Christian University, and all 8 Ivy League schools, announced that they are not requiring standardized testing scores for the upcoming admissions cycle. Some schools, notably those in the University of California system, have waived testing requirements for the next few upcoming admissions cycles. The schools are vowing that students will not be punished for not submitting a score.
Another aspect of the college admissions process that has changed has been athlete recruitment. Since in-person recruiting is limited or even impossible now, scouts and coaches cannot see athletes in action. This limitation especially impacts Division II and Division III schools whose recruiting processes don’t begin as early as freshmen year as those in Division I schools do. Tapes, Zoom calls, emails, and social media are now more important than ever to connect with coaches and display talent.
Despite these changes to the college admissions process, high schoolers across the country still may have more difficulty applying to college than students in previous years. There is already a correlation between high populations of low-income students and low attendance, and COVID is only increasing this divide between wealthier and low-income students. Wealthier schools have near perfect online school attendance; whereas, some high schools with high populations of low-income students have reported that, back when the pandemic started, fewer than half of the student body actually attended online classes.
Beyond attendance, COVID could impact students’ report cards in other ways. Students who planned to use junior and senior year to make up for less desirable grades from freshmen and sophomore year might be unable to do so due to a learning style that is incompatible with online school or due to new high school grading systems that have replaced traditional letter and number grades. COVID limitations may also reduce the number of extracurricular activities that students can include on their application. In terms of selecting colleges, high school students are having to rely more on virtual visits, tours, and Zoom calls. They are unable to get the “feel” for campuses that can accompany physical tours and visits.
COVID’s effects on colleges and the college process are constantly developing, and only time will tell its long-term impacts on high school and college students across the country.
- “Tracking Coronavirus Cases at U.S. Colleges and Universities,” The New York Times, 8/26/2020
- Neil Vigdor and Johnny Diaz, “More Colleges Are Waiving SAT and ACT Requirements,” The New York Times, 5/21/2020
- Abigail Hess, “How the coronavirus pandemic has changed college admissions,” CNBC, 4/17/2020
- Abigail Hess, “All 8 Ivy League schools will not require standardized testing for admissions next year,” CNBC, 6/23/2020
- Dana Goldstein, Adam Popescu, and Nikole Hannah-Jones; “As School Moves Online, Many Students Stay Logged Out;” The New York Times; 4/8/2020
- Joe Drape, “Pandemic Leaves a Void for Young Athletes Seeking to Make College Teams,” The New York Times, 6/6/2020
- Nick Anderson, “One million-plus juniors will miss out on SATs and ACTs this spring because of coronavirus,” The Washington Post, 4/13/2020
By Ceylin Erkan ‘23
After a much needed few months of respite, the start of a new school year brings new hopes, possibilities, and excitement for many students on the Close. Students wait eagerly to reconnect with friends and meet their new teachers, ready to take on another year full of learning.
This year, in an effort to protect everyone’s health, NCS will start the 2020-2021 school year with a “remote-plus” learning model. To summarize, after participating in an orientation week at the start of September that includes in-person meetings with homerooms, students will engage in community events and online learning using the Zoom video conference software, and asynchronous instruction will be delivered using discussion boards, group work, and independent assignments. Though it sounds similar to the learning model established in the fourth quarter of the 2019-2020 school year, this model includes a new daily schedule that better suits online learning and community events. Moreover, considering class experiences this past spring, teachers have designed innovative courses that are more efficiently taught in an online learning environment.
This education plan, involving many adjustments and improvements, presents different challenges for students across all grades. The freshmen, along with students who are new to NCS, are not able to have a usual start to their upper school experience and meet their new classmates in the same way. Sophomore year is when most students start to figure out what they are more interested in, and their lack of the full experience in classes may prevent them from knowing what they truly enjoy and prompt them to choose classes later on that might lead them on a path that isn’t necessarily right for them. Juniors have to start their college application process doing virtual college tours and the challenging coursework may be difficult to learn remotely, and last but certainly not least, seniors are not able to enjoy a usual senior year full of vibrant school traditions.
However, the remote start to the school year comes with as many opportunities and advantages. Classes being online and sports not being offered in-person during this time, students have more free time, which can help them stay on top of their schoolwork and do activities they enjoy but usually don’t have the time for. “I think that the new model is a very creative and effective solution to balancing schoolwork and proper rest from electronics. I also think that the new model provides an easy and effective integration back into in-person school in a way that maximizes cleaning and learning. While I recognize there are some challenges with this new schedule, I think that the new model works best for NCS” says Sigrid Drefke, a sophomore. Fiona Herbold, a junior, says, “I appreciate the administration’s decision to go remote for September. While I understand that this new model can add academic stress to our lives, being remote helps me feel less worried about who I’m being exposed to and how my classmates are handling their health. There’s so much less control in a hybrid/in-person model, and that can be just as stressful for students, especially for those who are high-risk.” Ally Wilkinson, a senior, says, “Obviously I’m upset about not getting to experience the fall of my senior year in the same way, but I’m willing to sacrifice that to make sure we keep our teachers safe. I also am super impressed by scheduling this year which allowed most people to take the electives they signed up for.”
The remote start may seem intimidating for some given the challenges of distance learning, but the 2020-2021 education plan has incorporated very effective ideas, possibilities such as shifting to a blended-learning model later in the school year, and solutions to problems experienced past spring. If we try to take advantage of the opportunities and stay optimistic about how the rest of the school year will unfold, I’m sure we can make this year another one to be proud of.