Scarsdale High School
After the United States approved two COVID-19 vaccines, the long-awaited end to the pandemic was finally in sight. When Scarsdale High School officially reopened in September, many people were dubious about how long students could attend school before too many outbreaks led to the closure. “I honestly didn’t think [the] school would stay open for more than a few months, no matter what schedule we used. Despite some hiccups, I think the schedule has worked fairly well at providing a quality education for everyone while keeping COVID cases down,” said Rishika Bansal ’22, a member of the High School Restart Committee. The school is currently working on making further improvements to the hybrid schedule.
Over the past few months, the school district has attempted to increase the amount of in-person school time for students. With the winter seasons approaching and a likely increase in the number of cases, more in-person hours may not be such a good idea. “I personally believe that… if a majority of the community does not get vaccinated, and if we do not see cases going down, it would be unwise to add more in-person time,” remarked Bansal. While the decision is currently unwise because of the increase in COVID cases, developing a new schedule is worth the effort. Even if SHS doesn’t put the new schedule into effect now, the school could use the schedule after cases decrease and people get vaccinated. The school has also created a mock schedule for the possibility that the school goes completely virtual. “An all remote schedule… was developed over the summer in order to plan for that possible scenario since we didn’t know when the transition would be happening or if it would be happening at all,” said Bansal.
There are multiple groups involved in deciding changes to the school schedule, including the district food services, mental health, and transportation committees. The High School Building Operations and Instruction Committee (Restart Committee) has been working hard to plan and give feedback on possible modifications. “Ultimately, the District Steering Committee takes all the different perspectives into account and makes a decision,” explained Bansal. “For any schedule change, health and safety is always our top priority,” she added.
The school may implement the new schedule with more in-person time as early as February. For now, though, it seems as though the Restart Committee recommends staying with the current hybrid schedule. “[We] have explored ways to increase the in-person experience for our students,” said SHS Assistant Principal Chris Welsh. The committee considered many alternative schedules, including a full-day alternating model and an AM/PM cohort model, but ended up sticking with the current model. According to the statement, the current option provides students with the most synchronous instruction time, allows full-class meetings on Zoom, and lets students who do so utilize in-person LRC services on Wednesdays. The committee believes that the hybrid schedule has been effective in limiting the number of students and staff members forced to quarantine after a positive case of COVID-19.
SHS has done an excellent job so far during these unprecedented times, but the administration must continually include students in the decision making process. Although changes for the new schedule are not permanent, it is prudent to have multiple possibilities ready. With a bit of luck and help from the restart committee, SHS will hopefully move towards a better new normal.