Viking Saga

ELHS Reviews Mixed on Updated Hybrid Model

Teachers’ sigh of relief, but a student petition arises to return to old

Ruby Mchmahon

The changes to the hybrid model from asynchronous assignments to synchronous zooming were met with initial complaints and a petition from some of the student body. Other students and teachers, however, were excited to see the shift.
“It was a challenge at first with the new model, but it was just another change we had to deal with,” said Birth to Three teacher Molly Goldreich. “I think Mr. Newton is listening and solving the issues that everyone
is complaining about. Even though we have to adjust again, I appreciated that they were trying to make the school better for everybody.”
Ms. Goldreich has already had to change the majority of her class after the state shut down the Birth to Three programs for kids’ safety. Still, she finds that there is more connection with her students with the new model. “I like that I get to see everyone two days a week now. It helps me to get to know my students so much more. It is very difficult only one day a week to connect,” said Ms. Goldreich.

Before the new system, Ms. Goldreich found herself planning more classwork rather than activities. She says that many teachers have been cramming in a week’s worth of work into one class in order to
reach the “checkpoints of the curriculum,” leading to more work for the teacher. With four days of live class rather than two, there is more time for learning. Assistant Principal Henry Kydd, who has been working
to make this school year as smooth as possible, said that one big reason for the model change was to reduce the amount of work for teachers.
“We wanted to reduce planning time for teachers who were planning multiple lessons and assignments for
each individual block,” said Mr. Kydd.
Sophomore and Virtual Viking Emily Wells also believes that since the hybrid model change, her school days have been more engaging and productive. Wells argues that instead of the new model being harder with more work, it allows for more time to understand material.

“Before the new hybrid model, I had so much work and it affected my mental health. With the new model, I have much less work and way more school interaction. My mental health is better than it was,” Wells said.
Wells found the original model was not very inclusive to virtual students, from not being able to Zoom into all of her classes, to instructions that were challenging to understand without live teachers. Now that Wells and virtual students have live class instruction four days a week, there is more teacher-student communication.

Junior and Virtual Viking student Abbie Weyand is the creator of the petition with
over 540 signatures that criticizes the Board of Education’s decision to make the hybrid model change. She argues that the new model has been detrimental to her mental health.
“Between teachers over-assigning, the schedule being constantly changed, and the unclear due dates, this year is much more stressful than I could have imagined. With the added stress of the spread of COVID-19, this year has been a nightmare of due dates and homework with no actual learning involved,”
said Weyand. Weyand believes that there needs to be “some form of workload control” from
administrators. Since the beginning of the year, Weyand says that she and some of her classmates have experienced daily eye pain and panic attacks. According to her, the system needs to minimize the
amount of work for students during this stressful time.
As a student who has been finding success with the new model, Wells said she was disappointed with the petition. “I think unity and student petitioning is empowering, but I thought it was uninformed to jump to a conclusion before trying the new system. Especially this year, kids need to prepare for constant changes,”
said Wells.
Mr. Kydd believes that the main reason for the new model was to help resolve the issues that Weyand mentioned. “Students were complaining about navigating the amount of work being assigned on their virtual days. There was also a lot of confusion about due dates and managing different assignments on Google Classroom. It is my hope that now that we have had time to settle into this new model, the workload resembles a more typical year,” said Mr. Kydd.
For the students who are still facing lots of work with the new model, teachers recommend sending them an email. “Talk to your teachers. Most teachers are going to do whatever they can to help you, from modifying assignments to giving you extra time,” said Ms. Goldreich.
As of now, it is up to the student body and the faculty to continue to give feedback to the BOE so that the system improves. Decisions on school functions are formed by the BOE, but come from parent, teacher
and student input, giving the power back to the people. “We have to reinvent the meaning of
‘normal.’ We all need to recognize there is a lot of change right now and a lot more coming,” said Wells.

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