Students adjust to ‘new normal’

Rozleyn Brown, Abbie Chaloupka, and Saher Asifi

The 2020-2021 school year got off to a different start than the past years. First starting all online Aug. 25, then phasing students back in, the year has begun nonetheless.

For the first time since the release for spring break last school year, In-person students stepped into the school building on Aug. 31. The slow, odd transition for those participating in in-person learning took place that week. Freshmen and seniors came back to school on Monday and Wednesday, while the juniors and sophomores returned on Tuesday and Thursday. That following Tues., Sept. 8, all students opting for in-person learning joined together.

Just as businesses have finally opened back again with new precautions, such as the mandatory wearing of masks, hand sanitizer usage, washing hands frequently, and 6 feet of social distancing, Melissa High School has implemented these protocols as well.

“So far I love being in person,” senior Lindsay Bauslaugh said. “I love seeing half of everyone’s face.”

Many in-person students believe that the school is doing well preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

“I believe that by ensuring that students have personal adequate supplies and making sure to clean classrooms and practice safe teaching, our school is doing a good job of keeping students safe,” sophomore Lindsay Anderson said.

While the in-person students returned after Labor Day, virtual students continue learning from home through Edgenuity and Schoology. Melissa ISD has partnered with Edgenuity and Schoology for virtual learning this year rather than using Google Classroom.

Unlike in-person students, virtual students are able to work any time of the day as long as they complete their assignments by 11:59 p.m. Additionally, all students must log into Schoology/Edgenuity each day to be counted as present, which is mandated by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) this year in order for schools to receive funding.

The high school has started a new program this year called “Focused Fridays” where all students–both in-person and virtual–work remotely from home on Fridays. The purpose of the program is to give teachers the opportunity to connect with their virtual students through tutoring, either in-person at the school or virtual through Google Meets. It also gives the teachers extra time to plan lessons for the upcoming week and enter them into the online learning management system (LMS).

Some virtual students have expressed how the transition from in-person learning to virtual learning is a positive transition and a new, beneficial way of learning.

“I think switching from in-person to virtual learning has affected my education in a positive way,” sophomore Isaiah James said. “It makes me feel like I have to pay attention a lot more because there is more work that has to be learned.”

However, some students are not pleased with this new way of learning.

“Online school doesn’t work,” sophomore Keegan Isowe said. “In fact, it is so baffling how many casualties Edgenuity has.”

Not only are some students able to learn better now that they are back to school in person, but they have also become more productive now that their old routine is back.

“To be honest, I’ve never really been the motivated type, but my motivation level kind of plummeted when we had to transfer to online school,” junior Mika Hill said. “I was pretty unmotivated when the pandemic began, and I didn’t really feel like leaving my house or even going to play outside. I’d say I’m personally more motivated now that we have in-school learning because it gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning, along with the fact that I also get to see my best friend at school, which makes learning in-person much better.”

Some virtual students are planning on returning to school in the future.

“I am planning on going back eventually because I miss seeing everybody at school.” sophomore Hannah Fowler said.

Students will have an opportunity to change their method of learning at the end of each nine weeks grading period. The first nine weeks ends on Fri., Oct. 23, so a virtual learner could switch to in-person learning starting on Tues., Oct. 27. (Mon., Oct. 26 is a staff development day.) Students will have to complete a request form in order to switch.