"Token of Appreciation" by Brynne Barnard-Bahn

EDITORIAL: Flexibility is appreciated, but more consistency in scheduling is necessary

COVID-19 has caused a constant fluctuation in safety requirements since the pandemic hit the U.S. hard in March, and that clearly has made the return to in-person learning an ever-evolving challenge.

In these unprecedented times, it is essential we remain on our toes, ready to make last-minute decisions. Equally important is our ability to adapt and modify systems set in place as we all learn what works and what doesn’t.

Thankfully, Country Day has maintained excellent flexibility throughout this whole process.During hybrid learning, students have the option to switch between remote and in-person learning on a day-to-day basis depending on how safe they feel .Feedback from students, parents and teachers has been consistently considered in the actions the school has taken.

In September, many parents pushed to get students back in the classroom. The school made sure this was possible as soon as county guidelines allowed for a return, and they ensured students were safe on campus with air purifiers and air filters, well-enforced social distancing and liberal cleaning.

When The Octagon noted a lack of communication, the school was quick to begin copying students on important emails rather than just sending information to the parents.

Not only have school leaders listened to families whose children attend, they have also taken the concerns of teachers and others into account by moving the two weeks following Thanksgiving break (Nov. 30 through Dec. 11) and one week after Winter break (Jan 4-8) to remote learning and enforcing COVID-19 testing requirements. Though the one week of hybrid learning may complicate students and teachers’ schedules, the school is making an effort to ensure safety.

All the bases have been covered to ensure that everyone is heard. The school continues to search for the right balance between safety and the highest possible quality of learning.

The new COVID-19 testing policy will be a great addition to ensure everyone on campus is safe. Requiring a negative test result bi-weekly is a strong step to limit the spread on campus.

While it would understandably be a greater resource and time sink, one improvement that should be made is the requirement of weekly negative COVID-19 test results rather than bi-weekly. The virus spreads quickly, and the more time between each test, the less valuable they are. Yes, it would be more difficult, but one week hits the sweet spot of being frequent enough to make a big difference while remaining worth the extra time and work. It also meets the standards that other high schools in the area, such as Jesuit, had when they were in person.

In addition, some consistency in the schedules would be helpful. Switching between hybrid and remote can be difficult, but it puts far more stress on students and teachers when the two schedules are completely different.

We appreciate the school’s efforts to stay on top of the chaos. Keep at it, and keep listening to voices in the community. It pays off.

Originally published in the Dec. 15 edition of the Octagon.

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