Starting April 19th, Royals in cohorts A and B will be attending in-person classes together for four days a week. Many factors have led to this decision. One is that new Public Health guidelines suggest that only three feet of distance is necessary between students. This allows student desks to be closer together in the classroom, meaning that students of both cohorts will be able to fit. In addition, 79% of district staff have already been vaccinated, and the allowance for anyone 16 years or older to be vaccinated means that many upperclassmen will be eligible as well.
Since 72% of students are in-person and only 28% are online, this new schedule will be a drastic change for many. Some things will remain the same though, such as the bell schedule and safety rules on campus. Face masks will still be required at all times except when eating, and at least three feet of distance is required between students. Six feet of distance is still mandatory between staff members and between students and staff.
On the other hand, virtually nothing will change for cohort C students. They will not be required to return to in-person learning with the other two cohorts, therefore they will continue with their usual online classes. Wednesdays will also remain completely online and the minimum day schedule will stay. The only adjustment to Wednesdays will be that 15 minutes will be added to each period. Keeping Wednesdays remote will also allow for cohort C students to experience school alongside the other cohorts, and will provide an opportunity for them to receive extra support that may not be available for them during in-person days.
In the time spanning from now until April 19th, classrooms will be rearranged to accommodate the larger number of students, needed furniture will be acquired, and teachers will prepare for the transition. Another impactful announcement that was made is that performances and live events will be allowed at schools once again starting April 15.
The scheduled switch to four day in-person learning has caused mixed feelings for students on campus.
“I’m actually nervous and not looking forward to having both cohorts on campus,” said Freshman Declan Braverman. “One of the things I love about hybrid learning is that when I’m in person, there is a small class size. It makes school feel less stressful, and it gives me more one on one time with my teacher.”
Although there are some concerns, many students are excited to have cohorts A and B on campus simultaneously.
“I am excited to see some friends who are in the other cohort once we go back for four days a week,” said Freshman Jolie Mardiat, “but I do think that it is a bit soon considering the fact that we’ve been receiving notices about positive cases on campus.”
The transition will also have a great impact on teachers. Ninth grade physics teacher Thomas Riparetti, known by students as Mr. Rip, says that there will be pros and cons to the return of both cohorts.
“From a teacher’s perspective, a challenge will be behavior because when kids are together they like to party,” he said. “The hardest part is going to be helping the C cohort because there will be fewer of them and it will disincentivize the teacher from spending a lot of time with them.”
He also expressed his belief that combining the cohorts is a safe choice, but it is always good to take precautions.
“I think that because most of the teachers are vaccinated and the data supports the idea that young people do not spread the COVID virus the way that adults do, that there is minimal risk. That being, said there’s still a little bit of risk.”
As with any significant decision made during this pandemic, conjoining the in-person cohorts will create both challenges and benefits for students and staff. With so many vaccinated and new Public Health guidelines, many feel that this choice is a safe one. No matter how you feel about it though, there is no doubt that this transition will be another step towards having a somewhat normal learning environment once more.