Covid-related changes affect the student learning experience

Freshmen+Allison+Cachat+and+Aiden+Arndt+listen+to+their+teachers+over+Zoom+while+learning+from+a+virtual+learning+space+in+the+hall.

Alli Voss

Freshmen Allison Cachat and Aiden Arndt listen to their teachers over Zoom while learning from a virtual learning space in the hall.

Alli Voss and Sam Decker

As the 1,183 BSM students return to the halls, there is no doubt that the learning and in-school experience will be different for all. BSM’s cohort-based and hybrid educational design model have enabled the student body to return in some capacity, but while most students are excited to be back, changes have clearly been made. Raising the question: “Is it working?”

One significant change is the switch from eight periods per day to four and the split of the schedule into quarters. “I like that we have [fewer] classes because that means less homework,” freshman Lauren Hillins said.

This shifting of the course workload raises some concerns, such as class balancing. Some students have struggled with the adjustment as their classes have not been distributed equally between the two quarters. Students who have all of their “hard” classes in the first quarter are concerned about implications for college. “Honestly, it feels unfair that some people have an easier time applying to colleges because of their schedules,” senior Adam Foe said.

Yet, the new freedom of only four classes has been liberating for some. “It’s nice to only focus on four [classes] at a time,” junior Justin Dalum said.

COVID-19 has affected how students and teachers operate in the classroom, especially because classes are now 80 minutes, which can feel like a long time.  “I don’t like having to sit in classes for an hour 20 min with no breaks,” Hillins said.

To combat these long periods, going outside and allowing students to take a break from masks and get some fresh air has become popular. “I like that Ms. [Jennifer] Bevington is giving us breaks; we go outside for them,” freshman Kiya Gilliand said.

The new schedule and procedures have also shaken up traditional BSM schedule privileges and consistencies. For example, many “senior privileges,” such as parking in the senior lot as well as coming and leaving early/late, have been given to all. However, the administration has remedied this by giving seniors with fifth or third hour free the ability to leave during the day. “I love having fifth hour free; it’s so nice to be able to leave and get some free time, ” senior Jonny Schiefert said.

I’m just glad we’re back in any capacity.”

— Finn Murphy

Another shakeup that has occurred as a result of the cohort system––the shifting of friend groups. As students adjust to seeing half the people they normally would, friend circles are changed. “It’s definitely an adjustment not being able to see everyone,” sophomore Annie Juckiness said.

However, some appreciate the change of pace. “Seeing less of your friends can cause you to branch out, which I really like,” senior Charlie Juckiness said.

While the upperclassmen are either hybrid or all virtual, the majority of freshmen are in school full time. “I like seeing my friends and being at school,” freshman Olivia Olson said.

Though freshmen had the option to be at school full time, there are changes for them as well. For example, there are a lot more kids in each class, which means some students have to go to overflow virtual learning spaces at school. “For science, I go to the theater, and I like that, but for health, I go in the hallway, and I don’t like that,” Hillins said.

Sometimes working in the hallway can come with many distractions. For example, during fifth hour other students will be walking in the hallways going to lunch. “I guess during fifth period [it is distracting,]’” freshman Lara Depauw said.

If the freshmen who are in school every day had to choose to be hybrid or all online, they say they would prefer hybrid because going into school allows students to feel less isolated and gives them the ability to socialize. “[With hybrid,] I can get to know more people,” freshman Grace Horejsi said.

While most students wish they could have normal school back. No one is denying the fact that they love being in school. “I’m just glad we’re back in any capacity,” senior Finn Murphy said.