Will SHS Return to School Five Days a Week with New COVID-19 Rules?

By Reese Petrie

On February 8th, 2021, the students of Salisbury High School made their return back to school. At the moment, the high school is consistent with using a hybrid schooling model, which means that students are split alphabetically. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the people with the last name A-L attend school, and on Thursdays and Fridays the last names of M-Z come into the building. Salisbury school districts also gave everyone from K-12 the choice to continue their virtual learning. With COVID-19, the CDC has made recommendations that are not necessary, but still some rules school districts can choose to follow. Within new CDC rec’s, some schools in the Lehigh Valley have changed the six foot social distancing rule to three feet. This new rule gives students and teachers the opportunity to work together more, and would also allow more kids to be in the building at one time. As of March 17th, a Salisbury school board meeting will be held, and there is possible talk of SHS making a return of full time schooling, instead of hybrid.
The one issue that seems continuous at the high school building is space. Most classrooms have just enough room to uphold half of a class, let alone a full classroom. By changing the six-foot social distancing rule to three feet, the school may have a better chance of making it’s five day return. SHS math teacher, Mr. James Hahn, states, “For us teachers, we are in five days a week already, so that would not change much. In fact, the prospect of having the same students in class every day is exciting because I think everyone (especially me) is craving for some consistency.” Another SHS teacher, Ms. Laura DosSantos, says how the six foot rule could be inconvenient for a five day week with all students. “My classes are pretty big right now as many of my students are hybrid rather than virtual. If I had both alphabet groups in the building at once, I would have classes of 18 students and even though my room is pretty spacious, it would not be easy getting desks 6 feet apart and would force kids to be further in the back of the room than they already are.”
As of January, Salisbury was back to school, and sent the elementary and middle school’s back five days a week instead of hybrid. Mrs. Michaeleen Reinhard, a first grade teacher at Salisbury Elementary, stated, “Being back in the classroom is what’s best for most of the younger students who are learning to read and write and learn a new math program. It’s also been good for their social emotional learning.” Younger kids are experiencing this the same way older ones are, and going back to school five days has given them the opportunity to build their social skills back up. Reinhard also said she uses an acronym for her students that helps them follow the coronavirus rules. “Following the Covid 19 guidelines have been challenging, but the first graders are doing their best.  We have been using the acronym HAM to help remind us what to do.  H stands for wash your HANDS often.  The kids do well with this.            A stands for stay 6 feet APART… M is wear your MASK.” 

The transition of coming back to school five days a week has been very beneficial for most teachers. “Virtual was different and enlightening in many ways but face to face is truly what I signed up for in working with students and being a teacher,” states fourth grade SES teacher, Mrs. Kristy Wied. Salisbury Middle School math teacher, Mr. Michael Posch, stated, “So much of life is about communicating with people and while we found that virtual meetings can make things convenient, we also need to work together in person to build relationships.” Posch continues saying, “The administration and teachers have come up with plans to manage the return of students Face-to-Face.” 

So far the teachers, staff, and students of Salisbury have done an excellent job of following social distancing guidelines, and would be sure to follow any new rules that come along down the road. As for the date of March 17th, we will see what the school board and community’s final decision will be.