By Sasha Stringer, Staff Writer
Shortly after a School Board discussion, a decision was made that would impact every student, family and faculty member in the Bend-LaPine School District: Students were returning to in-person school. After the announcement of the new hybrid model, many were thrilled to get back to a schedule that didn’t involve waking up only to sit hunched over a computer all day.
“I was very excited. I was thrilled, actually. For you guys it’s all about building community and as much as I tried to do that in Webex calls, being able to be face to face was a prospect I was looking forward to,” said Spanish and Introduction to Arabic teacher, Jylan Maloy.
Summit is taking various precautions to maintain and uphold a safe and healthy learning environment: keeping all windows and doors open throughout the campus to provide as much air flow as possible is just one of the many new protocols. While most classrooms are toughing it out in the cold, some have the luxury of using air purifiers that stay on for the entirety of the school day. The sacrifice of heating among other protocols is a reasonable adjustment for the sake of a Covid-19 safe environment..
“I was very appreciative of the plexi glass that they provided me with and I love the safety protocols that are in place,” Maloy said.
Other teachers have expressed the same gratitude for the district implicated protocols.
“I am completely stoked at how the administration has taken an all-out approach to support the teachers and we as a staff have pulled it together to give it our best shot. I hope we continue to have the opportunity,” human anatomy and physiology teacher Jason Colquhoun said.
The cohort system helps to limit the amount of people in the building on any given day. Cohort A attends in person learning on Monday and Thursday, whereas Cohort B attends Tuesday and Friday. On Wednesday, everyone participates in WebEx calls.
“I still am super happy they’re making this possible, but after being back in the building, I have realized that I would prefer for us to be either all in or to be all online. I’m not a big fan of the hybrid model, I feel like we had a lot more instruction time online but now students are only getting real instruction two days out of the five,” Maloy said.
Most teachers matched Maloy’s enthusiasm when learning of our imminent return to school, they were ready to leave their home offices behind. However, the district was faced with some pushback from some teachers in the transition back to the building.
“I think it was a very hasty decision. I felt so strongly about it I actually wrote a letter to the school board and superintendent. I love being able to see my students in the real classroom but even after being back these past few weeks I still believe that this is a very dangerous decision,” said AP Literature and Composition teacher, Frank Brown.
Every teacher at Summit has experienced a different situation with the pandemic, ultimately creating varying opinions on whether or not bringing people back together in one building is safe or not.
“I was shocked that it would be so soon. I was worried that I had forgotten how to be a teacher in the real world. I had existed in a surreal, virtual world within the distance model for so long that I stressed about being able to make it happen and inspire students with a mask on,” Colquhoun said. “I do not believe that teenagers, kids, or adults were meant to grow in isolation.”
While the months of online school were exhausting and frustrating for teachers to plan lessons and keep students engaged, there are a few positive things that we can take away from the past hardships.
“I think we have been able to see many new promising opportunities due to our technology. With smaller class sizes now, students are able to receive more one on one individualized instruction and I think that even in upcoming years, it may be a good idea to give students the option of doing online school a few days out of the week,” said Dean of Students, Kristy Knoll.
Despite some of the pushback the school board is facing, students and faculty will continue to do everything they can to make sure there is no spread of Covid-19 throughout the school or community.
“I’ve noticed that everyone is doing their best to comply and keep schools open. I feel safer here at Summit than just about anywhere else. When I was setting up my classroom, I wanted to be thoughtful and strategic,” Colqhoun said.
The administrator in charge of safety at Summit High School, Reno Holler, has been incredibly popular throughout the faculty during these tough times.
“Mr. Holler and the custodians came in and reorganized my room creatively so that we could fit everyone in and maintain 6 feet of social distancing. We needed to move the tables out and move desks in and they did it successfully,” Colqhoun said.
It’s no secret that teachers at Summit care for their students like they are their own, they only wish for them to strive while becoming the best they can be. For teachers, coming back to school after months of knowing nothing but their own families and electronic screens is difficult, but they have remained open minded and are prepared to put their students first.