Hybrid vs. In-person Learning at UCVTS
Covid-19 has undeniably hindered the normal operation of countless institutions many took for granted in previous years. The lockdown and reconfiguration of everyday events for people across the globe will surely leave a lasting impact. Undoubtedly, new high school learning formats are the most significant of the changes to affect average teenagers.
For the students at UCVTS, school looks drastically different this fall than it did in March. Before the pandemic hit, students went to school five days a week and followed an A/B day schedule. Classes were 80 minutes long, with a 60 minute lunch and co-curricular break. When returning to school in the fall, students had the option of remaining fully virtual or going hybrid. While some students opted for the fully virtual school option, others selected hybrid schooling. In this hybrid environment, students attend school twice a week and engage in 50 minute class periods. In-person school ends at 12:10, but activities and classwork are provided until 3 pm. Wednesdays are designated advisory days for extra help and club meetings.
In addition to these scheduling changes, there have been significant modifications to etiquette and procedure this fall. All students and staff are required to wear a face covering at all times to mitigate the spread of the virus. Students now also have ten minutes in between classes instead of the previous three minutes. During these ten minutes, students must abide by the one way foot traffic guidelines. Around all five schools, new signage indicates which way students are permitted to walk to limit interaction in the hallways. Students must keep a six feet distance at all times and wear a wristband to show that they have been screened. The screening process includes a Google Form that students must fill out indicating that they have had no symptoms or been in contact with anyone from out of state. Student temperatures are also taken before they enter the building.
Class sizes have also decreased significantly. Full class sizes have gone from 20-25 students to 15-20 students. Of these students, fractions attend in-person classes. Thus, in-person classes can at times have as few as 1 student. To maintain an inclusive environment for students attending school at home, teachers utilize Zoom while with in-person students to enable interaction between both groups of students.
Wednesdays also look different for students this year. There are no classes on Wednesday, as it is an advisory day. The mornings are designated for extra-help sessions with teachers, while afternoon sessions are set aside for club meetings. UCVTS offers a diverse array of clubs, and thus, most students find themselves quite busy in the afternoon. All students stay at home on Wednesdays.
In general, students are grateful to the administrators for finding a safe way to return to school. While it isn’t the same as last year, students appreciate the effort to balance the academic and social needs of students with safety and health needs.