14 months later, students return to EHS to find a changed school environment

For students who returned to school in May for the first time in over a year, the first thing they saw outside the main front doors was a sign with “Welcome back!” written on it and the staff playing music to greet them.

Since EHS has reopened the building, students and teachers have had the chance to meet each other for the first time this year. Naturally, there have been some adjustments, and things to get used to with students being back. 

One main reason for these students returning to school is to get more help from the teachers and to get more out of learning.

“I went back for my AP European History exam,” junior Lilie Francois said. “School is way different and not really how I imagined it but I made the right choice because I needed to take my test.”

“I liked that I was able to see some of my friends and that I was able to actually converse with them,” Francois said. “The really challenging thing about being back was that the stairs seem like a lot more of a workout than they used to.”

“I decided to go back to school because I recently took MCAS,” junior Amanda Alonzo said. “I enjoyed being back and actually getting to meet my teachers. I didn’t want to end the year without ever actually getting to meet them.”

“It was fun to get out of the house for once,” Alonzo said. “I like that I can easily ask questions directly to my teacher. Instead of Zoom, where I was too nervous to turn on my mic, I could just raise my hand and ask teachers questions easily. I like being able to see my friends in the hallways again and just be around people in general.”

Although some students are still remote, a good chunk of students have gone back. So safety precautions are necessary. Most importantly, the EHS community is keeping everyone safe and healthy by wearing masks and sitting at least 3 feet of distance away from people at all times. 

There are also touchless hand sanitizer dispensers in every classroom for anyone to use. 

Students have to wear a mask during all classes and take a cleansing wipe and wipe their desk after every period.  Students sanitize their hands after class ends, and before it starts. 

Student IDs are used to identify the students and to figure out how many people are in the bathroom at any given time. Students try their best to social distance, but they might see friends then and there that they want to communicate with. 

Some other changes that most students noticed is the fact that the school placed blue tape and arrows on the floor showing which way the students should go in the halls to keep students from bumping into each other. Also, when you are in the hallway you have to follow a yellow line and stay three feet apart from other people that are in the halls. 

One of the bigger changes is the fact that lunch is now also held both in the cafe and in the gym. Students with last names that start with A-L go to the cafeteria and M-Z go to the gym. The lunch staff takes a cart up to the gym filled with food and, one-by-one, students pick out which food they want. 

In the gym, students sit at desks spaced six feet apart to ensure social distancing. This makes it very difficult to sit with friends and talk to them.  For most, that was the best part of lunch. 

In class, teachers have to teach the students in class along with the students on Zoom so the process of learning is less online than it was before but teachers are managing with the multi-tasking. One other major change is setting up a way for students in-person to see the PowerPoint that the students online also see.

In many classes, teachers haven’t really been able to show their computer screen on the board and are screen-sharing on Zoom for the kids at home still. However, teachers can get around this by using two Zoom accounts, so one account shows the PowerPoint and the other account can see the PowerPoint and put it on the eBoard. The issue with this is that if done wrong, the mic will pick up both ways and output an echo, as well as being confusing for the online students because there are two accounts. If a student needs help and wants to private message the teacher, the students have no idea which account the teacher is actively looking at.

Students still utilize their Chromebooks to do school work in school instead of papers or notebooks. As well as the fact that pods are no longer a thing and intervention has returned to normal time.

The attendance system has changed in many ways because of in-person learning. Teachers now have to make it clear if a student is online or in person.

“It’s not what I thought it would be like,” Alonzo said. “In some of my classes, they have the Zoom meeting put up on the whiteboard so that we could see everyone else too. It’s kind of weird.”

Despite the challenges and the changes, most students who have returned to the building feel like they made the right decision. 

“Being able to get one-on-one help from teachers in person is a positive thing,” junior Marques Laforest said. “It’s exactly how I thought, very boring, but even though it is boring I definitely made the right decision. There haven’t really been any challenges so far.”

 “I didn’t really focus at home and my grades were low so I wanted to come back and talk to my teachers about it so I can pass this quarter, ” senior Max Nichols said.

“I’m actually more focused than I am at home, because I slack off sometimes,” Nichols said. “I like that I get to hang with my friends, and see them often because I haven’t really seen them in a while. What’s challenging is that I have to do really well in school because I only have about two weeks left to get my work done on time which is hard but I’ll mostly get it through.”

Being in school feels new, and there are many things to get used to, even though the school year will end in just a few weeks in June. So far, it’s been good, and we are looking forward to the weeks coming up before the summer gets here.