Teachers Help Reopen West High

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Students make their way through the gates of West High School on their first day of class, wearing masks and presenting their cleared COVID-19 screeners. Photo courtesy of Gaby Nieraeth (11).

Cyrilla Zhang, Staff Writer

   It’s 7:56 am on a Thursday morning: A long line of students slowly shuffle into the campus of West High School, displaying their cleared COVID screeners and searching for yet another line to grab their schedules. For the first time in two years, everyone attending school at West will be experiencing a normal high school day. Some people are excited and others are dreading what’s to come, but what most don’t notice are the people working behind the scenes to ensure that students have the best experience possible: Teachers!

   Everyone has had to adapt to the ever-changing situation this past year and educators are no exception. The teachers at West have had to work especially hard to get their classes up and running again. They’ve had some time to ease into it since the half-opening from last year, but the everyday schedules are still very different. 

   Many teachers have mentioned their willingness to continue following a block schedule. It gives them more time to teach and thoroughly explain a lesson, as well as giving students more time to finish classwork. Art teacher Ms. Kim did enjoy the block schedule,” as it gave students “more time to work on their artwork” but also enjoys being able to interact with all of her classes in a day now on a regular schedule.

  Though school life is closer to normalcy than it has been before, some changes still have to be maintained. Many classrooms are at full capacity, though it is still required that desks be spaced three feet apart. It is hard for most teachers to follow this and many had to move out their personal furniture to make room. As the science Department Chair, Biology Honors and astrobiology teacher Mrs. Chambers is “concerned about overcrowded classrooms” as it could lead to more infections and force more students into quarantine. She notes that as of September 1st, “we’ve got a quarantine list of two dozen kids already.” Though most of these students are only put into quarantine due to contact with COVID rather than infection, this is still a concerning number that could continue to rise over time.   

   With the announcement of reopening, teachers also had to readjust their lesson plans. Cross Country Coach and Athletics Director Mr. Druten was both “excited and nervous” to get students back on campus. In P.E. all activities were moved outdoors and slightly adjusted, but are overall the same as before. Lessons in art, on the other hand, were completely changed as students now had access to supplies and live help. Many other teachers are currently working on blending hands-on work with online activities to stay sanitary and try to provide students with more engaging lessons.

   As the bell for 6th period rings and students quickly file out to go home, teachers stay behind to clean their rooms, grade papers, respond to emails, and more. Their efforts may be underappreciated, but educators at West High are all working hard to ensure that the 2021-2022 school year is a good one.