Due to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, students at St. Martin’s Episcopal School returned to campus for the first quarter under a hybrid learning model.
In the hybrid learning model, Upper School students attended physical classes on Mondays, Thursdays, and alternating Wednesdays, while Middle School students attended physical classes on Tuesdays, Fridays and alternating Wednesdays. The school also provided students with the option to attend classes completely virtually.
One student who chose to remain completely online for the semester was Sophomore Zoe Tatum, and she believes that the school has been very mindful of online students’ situations.
“They are super flexible and are always available for help,” Tatum said. “Teachers are super kind and are willing to always explain something again or adjust a camera to make sure all students, including those online, understand what is going on at all times.”
Sophomore Rian McManus decided to attend class in person, and she praised the social distancing procedures in place to allow students to return to campus.
“I like the hybrid system because it limits interaction, but at the same time gives students and faculty somewhere to go instead of looking at a screen like we used to do when COVID first started,” McManus said.
McManus also shared that getting used to the new safety procedures, including traffic patterns in the hallway and staying six feet apart from other students.
“The school has a good system, but it’s hard for everyone to remember and adapt to those rules,” McManus said.
St. Martin’s plans on opening the campus full time for Upper School students during the second quarter. Despite the return to in-person classes, Tatum planned on remaining a fully virtual learner for now.
“It is definitely a huge risk to just start being in more contact with people for longer hours than for just certain days,” Tatum said.
McManus also expressed concern about a possible resurgence of the virus during colder months and possible spread as a result of holiday travel.
“Especially since it’s around the holidays, the school should wait a little longer before opening up full time, considering that people could travel during the holiday season,” McManus said.
Another concern expressed by students is what happens after a vaccine is found. Students shared their worries about another outbreak if everyone stops social distancing and wearing masks. Both Tatum and McManus agreed that wearing a mask would be vital during flu seasons at school for a couple of years, even if a vaccine is found.
“Even though it is uncomfortable, we still want to make sure that this virus doesn’t somehow come back,” Tatum said.
Both Tatum and McManus said that there is nothing they would change about the current system. However, in order for the system to be effective, it is each person’s responsibility to follow social distancing and safety guidelines for the health of all in the community.
“Everyone should wear a mask at all times,” Tatum said. “You shouldn’t take others’ health for granted just because you feel safe enough to not wear one.”