History Department Head Chris Kuipers teaches his Comparative World History class in the library. (Photo by Arijit Trivedi)

Students remain split between in-person, remote learning

Despite Country Day being in a hybrid schedule, many students have chosen to remain at home. Some recent schedule changes and COVID-19 concerns have affected high school students’ decisions.

Fridays now follow a club schedule, with meeting times for advisory, morning meeting and clubs. Class times are shortened to 45 minutes and electives do not meet. Students attending in person have all been placed into Cohort B due to low attendance, according to a Feb. 8 email from Head of High School Brooke Wells.

Rising rates of COVID-19 affected student decisions as well.

Senior Carter Joost attended school in person before Thanksgiving break, but decided to switch due to rising COVID-19 cases in Sacramento County.

“My dad’s over 70, so we decided that it would be better just to stay remote,” he said.

Joost said while the transition from hybrid to remote was not difficult, he prefers learning in person.

Freshman Orlando Ponce Blas attends AP Spanish in room 6. (Photo by Arikta Trivedi)

“Staring at a screen all day sort of has your eyes out for a while,” he said. “It’s also nice having a routine. When I’m at home, I have to create my own.”

He returned to in-person classes after mid-winter break due to the fall in COVID-19 cases and hopes that vaccinations will keep numbers low. If numbers rise again, he will stay home.

Changes in the pandemic also affected sophomore Jackson Fox. 

He stayed home after winter break until the start of the second semester due to rising cases in the county.

“My parents were a little scared to send me back right away, but they came around, and now I’m back,” he said.

His decision was also affected by the ease of in-person learning.

“You’re able to ask questions much easier, and you also get to see your friends,” he said.

Senior Brian Chow is taking a different approach. He only attends in-person classes for AP Biology and the anatomy and physiology class.

Juniors Elliot Crowder and Malek Owaidat attend pre-calculus online in the gym
as junior Jesus Aispuro passes by. (Photo by Arikta Trivedi)

“I’m going two days a week, and I’m only going for dissections and labs,” he said.

Chow doesn’t attend more classes in person due to his schedule. He has free periods first and sixth periods, meaning he spends less time in classes.

He also has to deal with a long commute when attending in person, which is upwards of an hour.

“There’s no point,” he said. “If I wake up early to go to school, but then have an hour where I do nothing in the middle of the day, then have a class, but have to go get lunch (and) go back to school, it would be a lot of time wasted driving around.”

Instead, he attends the anatomy and physiology class and AP Biology class in back-to-back periods only on the days when dissections and labs take place and spends the rest of his time learning at home.

However, fear of COVID-19 does not factor heavily into his decision, as he said the school appears to be doing a good job keeping the situation under control. 

“I feel like I’d be more worried if there were a lot more people going in person,” he said. He’d also be worried about an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Chow doesn’t plan to change his attendance in the foreseeable future, even with the cohort change.

Schedule changes were also a factor in senior Lili Brush’s decision to stay home for the two weeks before mid-winter break, although she ultimately stayed home because she couldn’t get her mandatory COVID-19 test.

History teacher Liz Leavy teaches her World History class in room 5. (Photo by Arikta Trivedi)

“I have a lot of free periods so it wasn’t fun to be out in the rain or in the gym, just sitting there,” she said.

The rainy weather also meant that people spent more time indoors, which worried Brush.

“People would eat inside without their mask and then some people would eat and talk at the same time, so my parents didn’t really feel comfortable with that,” she said.

Despite her concerns, she returned after mid-winter break, as she was able to get her COVID-19 test.

The increased number of people on campus with the cohort change was a positive for Brush.

“I really appreciate that they did that because it was kind of weird,” she said. There were only a few seniors in her cohort, and a few in the other, she said.

“It’s nice to be able to be with them,” she said.

Brush also doesn’t mind the new club schedule, but wishes there was more time for electives, especially her Advanced Topics in Computer Science class.

There are currently 78 out of 144 high school students in person, according to Valerie Velo, assistant to head of high school, but changes have been hard to track due to students and parents changing their minds.

Head of High School Brooke Wells said more students began attending in-person classes after winter break and that growth is fairly steady.

He believes this is due to the combining of cohorts as well as the county’s move out of the purple tier of viral transmission. 

Even if some students are on Zoom, it doesn’t make a difference as long as classes are evenly divided, he said.

“The goal is to have everyone in person,” he said. “That’s the best experience for everyone.”

—Samhita Kumar

Originally published in the March 9 edition of the Octagon.

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