Back to School, Back to Reality

Kaylin Khusial

Welcome back UACHS staff and students. School has started, but we are still at home and will be until at least November 16th.

According to a message from our principal Erie Lugo:

“We met with the New Jersey City University facilities department and they have expressed that all work will be completed by the end of October. Consequently, the in-person hybrid schedule start date has been moved/postponed to Monday, November 16, 2020 to coincide with the start of the 2nd cycle/marking period.”

UACHS has a re-opening committee who are working on making the school a safer place for our return. This team consists of: Mr. Lugo, parents, union, administrators, teachers, the nurse and more.

At first, school was scheduled to begin on September 1st, but then the committee met and decided to postpone the opening to September 10th to begin hybrid learning as explained by Lugo.

“We were going to do the hybrid remote learning until October 1st and then bring everybody back the next day. Then this week we decided that we are going to keep remote learning until the end of cycle one, so right now we have a November 16th start date,” said Lugo.

One of the main reasons for the re-opening delay is due to the updating of UACHS’ Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. According to Brennan Heating, “These systems use fresh air from outdoors to provide high indoor air quality. This provides a better quality of air indoors and involves the removal of moisture, smoke, odors, heat, dust, airborne bacteria, carbon dioxide, and other gases as well as temperature control and oxygen replenishment.

“The HVAC system can be a safer alternative for ventilation within the school.

“We have cleaned all those HVAC units and we replaced all the filters. There’s still issues where it’s not communicating to certain units and we are hoping that by late October that’s all done,” said Lugo.

A lot of changes are being implemented in UACHS, including a new electric scanning station so that when you walk into the school, you are required to put your face in the station to find your temperature. Once you hear a ding dong, you are good to go.

We are currently virtually learning through several platforms including Zoom, Schoology, and Google Classroom. A handful of students enjoy being able to work from the comfort of their homes without having to socialize. It might actually be more beneficial in terms of comprehending the information for these select few. Senior, Jeremiah Daughety, agrees that in-person learning is more comfortable for him.

“With online learning, I am not learning anything. Me being at home is not helping me learn because I am in bed just listening to teachers talk. I like to be in a classroom learning, I want to enjoy my last year at high school, I want the full high school  experience,” said Daughety.

Other students are eager to return to the “norm” of in person learning, seeing their friends, and not having to communicate through a screen. In-person learning might be more efficient for this group of students as well. Senior, Ijah McCord, falls into this group.

“I want to return back to school, only because this is my last year of school. Senior year is the most important year of a teenager’s life. Prom, college trips, graduation, and just the senior experience is something I really want to encounter,” said McCord.

Regardless of which group students fall into, some students do not want to return to school due to different rules that would have to be adhered to. Some of these safety precautions can become a distraction from learning for a few. Autumn Gales feels as though remote learning is the safer way to go.

“There hasn’t been any news of the vaccine, we do not know who can still have it. I feel like kids who claim they have “stress” because they are not in school are lying because they are not staying on top of their work because they are lazy. School is easier this way, either way I think school does not teach me what I need to know in life anyways,” said Gales.

It is completely optional to physically return to UACHS. How exactly will classes work if some students are physically in school while other students are virtually learning?

“When we return, there are going to be teachers who are teaching students real time. The remote students are not going to have that ability, they are going to have asynchronous learning, given assignments they have to do on their own. There is going to be a period in the afternoon, late afternoon, where they will be able to provide support to those remote learning students,” said Lugo.

When school reopens on November 16th, the schedule will be operating on a hybrid A/B half-day schedule with Fridays being ALL remote learning for deep cleaning of school facilities. There will be in person learning from 8am-12:20 pm Monday through Thursday, followed by remote learning from 1:25pm-2:50pm, with Friday being remote for everyone from 8am-2:50pm.

The question is: what changes are being implemented into the school for our safety?

One thing that will remain familiar are the Yondr pouches. Welcome to UACHS.

2020 has been a very eventful year, and everyone living it has been mentally strong. Instead of looking at this as a setback, let us look at this as an opportunity to become better. You become what you think of most of the time. Train your mind to focus on success, let your actions follow up, and you will prosper. Your attitude towards life will determine life’s attitude towards you!

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