By Tessa Cherian and Priya Persaud
While the global pandemic continues to wreak havoc through communities due to an increase in the number of cases, there is more fear and nervousness about ensuring proper safety precautions. However, this fear and paranoia has lead to a decrease in physical student attendance in schools, which impacts both students and teachers trying to survive this “new normal.”
During this uncertain time, facts provide revealing insights about the drastic nature of this pandemic in the world, especially in New York. Statistics reveal that in the week of November 23, 2020, there were approximately 6,553 newly reported cases each day, which was an increase of over 46 percent from the prior two weeks. This alarming rate at which people are contracting COVID-19 in New York is a cause of concern for many parents, students, and teachers alike in the New Hyde Park community. With new cases, there is a constant fear of actually contracting the disease and increasing paranoia on how to remain safe.
With 511 students in Cohort A and 352 students in Cohort B as of November 23, 2020, many people at NHP Memorial, especially those in Cohort B, have 1-3 peers in their classes. Sometimes, classes only have the teacher and one student. As a result, hybrid learning can feel pointless to some because they want to come to school for the social interaction, but there is barely anyone to talk to.
Source from Ms. Mary Gelber
In Ms. Gelber's eighth period AP Biology class, there are sometimes zero students physically in the room with her on Hybrid B days.
These feelings of paranoia, anxiety, and fear are all major factors in the decision for students in the hybrid learning plan to switch to fully remote. There have been numerous instances in which students and staff from New Hyde Park Memorial had contracted COVID-19, and the school had to be shut down, promptly leading to the decision for students to become fully remote. Such instances where the cases are immediate impact student agendas and provoke fear and paranoia in concerned parties, such as parents. While many students make the initial step to join the hybrid learning program to retain a sense of normalcy, the good intentions were quickly challenged with facing the increasing risk of contracting COVID-19.
Rachel Houng, a sophomore, joined the new hybrid program at the beginning of the school year. However, due to the recent spike in COVID-19 reported cases, she had to make the difficult decision to switch to fully remote learning.
“...switched from hybrid to fully remote because of the rise in COVID-19 cases in the school; there was a parental influence as the number of cases began to grow..."
“I chose to become a hybrid student because I missed the in-school experience while stuck in quarantine. I switched from hybrid to fully remote because of the rise in COVID-19 cases in the school, and there was a parental influence as the number of cases began to grow, ” said Huong.
Many students are facing similar situations, and they feel immense pressure because it has become the last place where they can maintain a sense of normalcy during these trying times.
“It was difficult, but I understood where my parents were coming from. Since we live in such a technologically advanced world, I can still contact my friends,” said Huong.
Source by Sydney Hargrove @sydneysscrapbook
The number of students on campus is on a decline with more and more students opting to switch to the remote learning plan.
Many students want to physically attend school, but out of caution and fear, more and more of the student population is slowly transitioning to fully remote. It is a difficult adjustment for the students, but many understand that this pandemic is unprecedented and many lifestyles have to be adjusted for the preservation of public health.
“Teaching during the pandemic has been very challenging. In my classes, we have all adopted the mantra of ‘patience and positivity!’ It’s something all of us need!” said AP World History teacher Mr. Laugen.
Mr. Laugen teaches the importance of staying resilient during times where individuals are both mentally and physically challenged. Students in his class carry this new mantra of “patience and positivity” wherever they go.
Source by Sydney Hargrove, @sydneysscrapbook
Many students' e-school status are constantly changing when they switch from hybrid to fully remote.
With air-intake being restricted by masks, it is imaginable to see how hard it is to lecture a group of students with a piece of fabric covering half of one’s face. Not to mention, feelings of struggle can resonate with that of other teachers attempting to adapt to this new normal.
“Teaching to a screen can get tiresome, and wearing a mask while teaching all day is not fun. It is physically and mentally exhausting,” said Mr. Laugen.
Additionally, Mr. Laugen had noted that both teachers and students had to adapt immensely during the pandemic. For students, he believes that remote learning imposes distractions that may hinder their learning abilities. Students at home are constantly sidetracked due to their phones, other technology, family members, and additional distractions. As a result, both teachers and students have to figure out what works best for them.
“Connecting with fully remote students has been challenging, but I try as much as possible to include them in class discussions and get to know them a bit more personally,” said Mr. Laugen.
Regardless of the physical distance between students and teachers during the remote learning process, teachers have been more determined than ever to connect with their students. Mr. Laugen expressed that he had understood their concern, although he does see hope in the lower number of COVID cases at school.
“We have no choice but to make the best of it and look for the silver lining in each day,” said Mr. Laugen.
With COVID-19 instilling increased feelings of precaution among students and their families, it is evident that more and more students have been switching to remote learning. This worrisome atmosphere is created by the increasing number of COVID cases in New York and the paranoia of the contraction of the virus from school. However, it is important to always look on the bright side, and like Mr. Laugen always says, have “patience and positivity!”