November 23rd, 2020 was the day that many feared was coming sooner than later; this was the day when both Roxbury High School and Eisenhower Middle School decided to shut down in-person learning until December 15th due to multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases in the middle school and the high school.
Prior to this, the Roxbury School District operated on two schedules during September, October, andNovember: a Phase I schedule and a Phase II schedule. Phase I of hybrid-schooling consisted of half days for grades K-12, but with only half of the students attending at a time. Each of the schools was divided into cohorts of A-L and M-Z. Students and parents had the choice between either attending school fully virtual or attend school in a hybrid manner. Each student would have two days of “attending class live,” with Monday being fully virtual for the entire district whether you were hybrid or virtual. The other two days at home were known as asynchronous days, which meant students were provided with two days to get their work done independently.
On November 16th, the Roxbury School District went forward with the transition from Phase I to Phase II. Phase II differed from Pre-K to 8th and 9th-12th. The students who were in grades Pre-K-8th would attend in-person schooling (if not virtual) Tuesday-Friday, for half-days with the whole school population attending. The Pre-K-8th transition differs from the 9th-12th transition because Roxbury High School made the decision to stick with cohorts but allow the students to attend school for a full day and go back to the standard bell schedule. This came with the expectation, though, that students were required to for the days that the students are virtual you will be required to attend Google Meets of the live-streamed class during virtual instruction.
The transition from Phase I into Phase II brought significant debate from the students, parents, and staff. Many parents of students were unsure whether to send their children into in-person schooling due to health risks that pose for the student and the immediate family members of the students. Meanwhile, sophomores Delaney Scalera and Vanessa Suarez created a petition to allow students to have a voice on the transition from Phase I into Phase II. As of constructing this article, Vanessa and Delaney have received approximately 744 signatures from both students and parents of Roxbury.
To many, the most significant people in the Roxbury Education system are the teachers themselves. Teachers of Roxbury have mixed feelings when it comes to the transition process due to the fact that there are teachers concerned about their health. Some teachers were comfortable with Phase I schedule and, since they got more comfortable with Phase 1, the transition into Phase II and the creation of a whole new schedule completely threw them off.
Roxbury High School Science Teacher Mr. Justin Kulick had mixed emotions when it comes to Phase I, Phase II, and the transition phase as a whole. Mr. Kulick says “I wish I could have had more time with my students in Phase I. But, on the other hand, in Phase-II I can see my students for a longer period of time.” While in Phase II, students of Roxbury High School were required to attend a 75 minute Google Meet on the days that they were fully virtual.
He does believe, though, that a combination of these two schedules would be ideal. He stated, “I wish that there would be a combination of Phase I and Phase II where all of my students will meet in the morning, and then use the afternoon for their asynchronous work or office hours so that I could meet with my kids. I like seeing you guys regularly and getting more teaching time, but I also like seeing you guys individually if need be.” There are not a lot of bright sides to this whole COVID-19 situation, but Mr. Kulick emphasizes that this whole online learning situation could benefit students by preparing them for college by having the students become more independent with their work.
Due to this whole situation, no student truly knows what it feels like to be a teacher under these circumstances and what life is like through their eyes. Mr. Kulick believes that the hardest things for teachers are how hard it is to manage the online aspect of schooling. Teachers around the district are finding it a lot harder to make sure that their online students are engaged in conversation. A majority of the teachers have noticed that the students are a lot less engaged on virtual days compared to in-person classes. No one has a good answer for when this is all going to end or how Roxbury will be able to control this virus but, we are Roxbury Strong and we will be able to get through this situation together!