“New normal” and its impact on the 2021-2022 school year

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Photo Credit: Mrs. Allen

This pandemic as changed the way we live our lives. A “new normal” has developed, and it can ultimately change the way classrooms will operate in the 2021-2022 school year.

By: Katherine Albuquerque, Reporter

Over the last year, virtual learning has become the new way to teach and learn. I think many can agree that being in school has a unique environment that cannot be replicated. 

The likelihood that school will be open in person in the fall is high as things go back to normal. This pandemic has changed all of us, and the way we interact with one another. So how might it affect the upcoming school year?

Paperwork

The slow switch from paperwork to digital files has already been happening long before the pandemic. High schools across the country have given out laptops, iPads, and chrome books to students. This is to make use of Google classroom and its programs.

But paperwork was still given, and notetaking in notebooks still occurred. However, now that we’ve all experienced a global pandemic, the fear of spreading germs and getting sick has been engraved into our minds (seriously, I’ve never washed my hands this much since the pandemic started). 

So with that being said, is paperwork going to officially become a thing of the past by the time the new school year begins in September? There’s a high possibility. Many teachers might not feel comfortable collecting students’ paperwork that has been in their possession out of fear of germs and getting sick. Many students probably feel the same way, myself included.

Furthermore, now that we are so used to doing our school work online, the need for paperwork is questionable- specifically for high school students. Paperwork may be a useful tool for kindergarten and elementary schools as learning how to write is important. But once students reach middle and high school, they most likely have writing mastered already. 

Standardized Testing

The only concern is with standardized testing, which usually occurs on paper. Some may argue that standardized testing will become all digital, or at least it will be an option for students to have. The College Board did this with AP exams this year and the year before. But tests like the PSATs, ACTs, and SATs are all on paper, no digital option available. Personally, I don’t see those tests becoming virtual any time soon. Based on this, paperwork would still be somewhat beneficial for high school students.

This pandemic as changed the way we live our lives. A “new normal” has developed, and it can ultimately change the way classrooms will operate in the 2021-2022 school year. (Photo Credit: Mrs. Allen)

Group Work

While group projects over the last year have been done in breakout rooms, most likely that will be a thing of the past. Yes, the projects will still need to be submitted via Google Classroom; however, students will be able to work on their assigned groups within the classrooms’ setting, even if with masks. 

Students may not feel comfortable at first being so close to others; nonetheless, we all have to precondition our minds to accept that cooperative tasks will be assigned and we have to gradually get back to some kind of normalcy.

Even though some may feel that social distancing might still be necessary, it will be impossible to enforce if schools need to have one hundred percent of the student body back in the buildings. That’s the reality that we are facing for September. 

Mental Health

The mental struggles that many students have endured during this pandemic will begin to diminish as the new school year begins this fall. The in person interactions between students and teachers will be pivotal in paving the way for better mental health. Without a doubt, the isolation caused by the pandemic was detrimental to many, but the return to in person school this fall will be instrumental for one’s psychological well being and overall socialization skills.

Anxiety will surely be present in many students (including myself), but that too will decrease as the weeks go by. The increase in vaccinations will ease the mind of those who are immunized as is happening now. More and more students and faculty will face the ongoing mental challenges once again together. Undoubtedly, in person learning will be crucial in easing the nerves and calming the mind. 

Reality for September

Currently, virtual learning will not be an option in September according to Governor Murphy. No student can opt to stay home to learn instead of attending classes in person. Now is the time for those who have been home all year or part of the year to convince themselves that it is alright and all will go well. 

Returning to in person learning is vital for improving our well – being and learning experience overall. If this past year taught us anything, it is that together we can overcome any obstacles that may come our way! We will have the support, collaboration and cooperation that we always receive every time we enter our school.

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