The New School Scenario

Courtney Blom, Opinion Editor

Our lives have all drastically changed since this past March 13th. Just like that, everything was shut down, the world put into quarantine for months, and everyone’s lives impacted. Students, teachers, and faculty at Mepham have all had to adjust to a new style of learning because of the pandemic. Bedrooms became classrooms, beds became desks, Zoom calls became the new norm for learning, and regular school days that seemed so normal became virtual. As students, we have had to adapt to many changes since that infamous day last March, and now we are starting a new school year in-person once again where everything has changed.

 Although the online learning that students were thrown into last spring was unexpected, there were some advantages to the virtual environment. If last year turned out to be a regular school year, many students would have already begun to feel the stress and uneasiness of finals, Regents, and AP exams that were fast approaching. However because everything got shut down, Regents and most final exams were canceled. Even the AP exams were shortened considerably, and the College Board was more flexible with scoring. As a student who took AP exams last school year, the time was still filled with tension, but it was less stressful since the exams only contained one or two components and were given in less time to complete. Also, students had less pressure put on them because grades were pass or fail for the fourth marking quarter, allowing students to feel more at ease during very uncertain times. This homeschool approach last spring allowed for students to have more downtime and relaxation being at home for an extended period of time and also gave students a chance to spend more time with their families than they probably have in years. 

An incoming freshman this year at Mepham, Sanjay Persaud, commented on the homeschooling system that took place last school year: “I feel that virtual learning last March to the end of the school year wasn’t as organized because everyone in the district was still trying to figure out how to do things.” 

 There were also some negatives attached to the virtual learning system that occurred last spring. Students were able to be home much more, but had significantly less interaction with friends and peers because of the pandemic. Online learning could become more stressful for students who do not respond well to learning through a computer, and everything was in disarray at times because of the district having to figure out how to deal with the pandemic situation. 

 Since last spring, Mepham, along with many other schools on Long Island, have been permitted to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. Now, mid-October, there are many new procedures that are taking place at Mepham. Upon entering the building, students and faculty have to fill out a health survey and take temperature checks. There are barriers on each desk in every classroom and there are designated up and down staircases throughout the building. Of course, everyone also has to stay six feet apart at all times and lunch seating is farther apart. Some normalcy is continuing to happen here at Mepham, with spirit week occurring and clubs and sports starting back up again. Clubs are being held via Google Meets virtually, and intramurals taking place outside. 

Sanjay Persaud also gave his opinion on the new school system in place currently, saying, “This year’s virtual learning compared to last year’s is definitely much better because of the schedule that we have now. I am so impressed by the way that Mepham has been handling things.”

Despite how much has changed compared to the beginning of the academic year last year, I notice there is still a positive outlook among the students and staff at Mepham. From the incoming freshmen just beginning their new experiences at Mepham, to seniors who are trying to enjoy their ultimate senior year, everyone is trying to remain hopeful that eventually things will return to a new kind of normal. Nonetheless, in order for this to happen, everyone has to continue staying safe. Remember to stay positive and wear your masks!