Students return to in-person learning after six months

West High students who registered for standard enrollment transitioned into the hybrid learning model Sept. 28.

It wasn’t the first day of school. 

However, students were seen in the classroom for the first time during the 2020-21 school year. 

The ICCSD announced the transition into the hybrid model last Thursday and after nearly three weeks of off-site learning, students finally stepped into the building on Sept. 28.

Nearly 55.3% of West High students enrolled in the standard learning model. Students with last names A-K were sectioned into Group A, while students with last names L-Z are Group B. Group A attends school in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays and Group B will go on Thursdays and Fridays. The groups will alternate attending school on Wednesdays.  

Although students were back in-person, the inside of the building was anything but normal. 

“What surprised me was the tape [with arrows] on the floor because usually people just walk around [in the hallways],” said Adama Katile ’22. Instead of the usual bumping and squeezing through throngs of people, students found themselves walking neatly on their respective sides of the hall.

In addition, classroom layout consisted of students seated in an alternating checkerboard formation to maintain social distancing during class. Students were assigned seats, and desks were sanitized after each class. Bottles of hand sanitizer were placed readily near the doorways.

For many freshmen, today was when they first learned how to navigate the foreign building of West High.

“I’m excited but also a little nervous, I can’t find all my classes yet… but [being at school] feels good,” said Violet Clark ’24. 

Lunches were split into three sections to minimize crowding in the cafeteria and each lunch table was limited to three seats. While the scenery of school drastically changed, science teacher Andrea Harms was looking forward to seeing students in the building again. 

“It’s a strange [day so far]. There’s very few students here,” Harms said. “The energy of students in the hallways is something I missed a lot.”

Although teachers were happy to see their students again, some were concerned about the risks that come with in-school learning despite safety measures.

“I have to say, I’m a little bit anxious as well,” said band teacher Rob Medd. “Some people go out more than others … I take care of my parents who are in their nineties.”

Despite the uncertainty and health concerns with in-person learning, Medd feels there are some benefits to the hybrid model.

“The best thing is seeing the students, my band students…that I haven’t seen for six months,” Medd said. “That was the worst part of the last six months and the best part of today.”