Teachers manage varied learning experiences

Sixth Formers Mac Zeller, Franklin Dai, Taejon Williams, and Sen Zelov experience class in different ways, Friday, October 2, 2020 – Tilak Patel ’21

As the new school year started with a “new norma” in place, many students were left unsure about what the reopening of campus might look like. Because the school is offering both in-person and virtual curriculums as a part of this year’s agenda, there was a split between students’ decisions on how to attend school. It has been nearly a month since school started, so many are wondering: how do in-person and virtual students feel about their respective reimagined school lives?

     Fourth Former Colin Kelly said, “When I got the email that we were going back in-person, I was pretty excited. I was confident that Haverford and Dr. Nagl would do a good job to keep everyone safe.” 

     After a month, his expectation hasn’t failed him.

     “We’re wiping down our desks, everybody’s wearing masks, and the teachers are pretty strict,” Kelly said. “If your nose just comes out of the mask a little bit, they [the teachers] will point it out that you have to keep your mask on. They have done well so far.”

     Kelly noted that the safety regulations have been strictly followed, but on the other hand, Fourth Former Nathan Mirin disagreed with him.

     “Following the protocols has been pretty much as expected for the first couple of weeks, but as time wore on, the threat of the pandemic would feel less and less. I am aware that especially in the hallways, there’s very little social distancing. We may be switching to studying virtual: something that I still think will happen in the future,” Mirin said.

     Aside from health and safety protocols, the workload during the first month has also been one of Mirin’s concerns.

     “The schedule has been hard on most people. I am in two honors classes right now. So I feel that frequently I’ve gotten a lot of homework, but it has leveled out a little bit. I feel like I’ve been getting a fair amount, maybe a little bit too much, but I’m fine with it,” Mirin said. 

     On this specific aspect, Kelly seems to agree, “I’ve been hit pretty hard with homework because I have class every single day. It’s weird. We’re basically a month ahead of what we would normally be.”

     School life was surely not easy, but there’s always a way to harvest enjoyment from these hard days.

     Kelly said, “The lunch block is an hour and fifteen minutes long, which is my favorite part of the schedule.” 

     Mirin agreed about the benefits of the lunch break. But he also suggested, “If Haverford took the half-hour out of the lunch period and put it into ten minutes breaks. That would be helpful.”

     While opinions vary within the walls of our school, virtual students have experienced something quite different during their first weeks.

     “It’s nice to be in my own house. I think it’s actually working out pretty well. It would definitely be easier if everyone was on virtual” said Fourth Former Matthew Collier.

     While virtual learning seems cozy, students online also have their own difficulties. 

     “One thing that would help is to get the teachers better microphones. At some points, it gets really staticky, or some other noise interrupts when they’re speaking. Also, maybe move the camera closer to the whiteboard when they’re gonna take notes,” Collier suggested.

“You kind of have to have those long classes. It was only a matter of how you spend it sitting in a chair for 90 minutes and have the most fun out of it.”

Colin Kelly ’23

     Collier planned to return to school in-person possibly by the second quarter. But on Tuesday, September 29th, the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the Upper School. 

     “I don’t really feel like it affects my decision to return too much. If more than one person gets infected, then I will start to maybe change my mind a bit,” Collier explained.

     The future remains uncertain, as both virtual and in-person students have their own worries about what is to come. But all agreed that while the school is currently doing a great job, there are certain areas where things can be further improved.

     Or maybe, these so-called flaws are just compromises that had to be made.

     “I know that. We’re doing the best we can,” Kelly said. “The only things that I don’t like about this schedule are the long classes. But I’d say that was the right choice. You kind of have to have those long classes. It was only a matter of how you spend it sitting in a chair for 90 minutes and have the most fun out of it.”

Author: Jingyuan Chen '23

Jingyuan Chen has written for The Index since 2019. His news piece “Inside the middle school construction project” and his opinion “What can the U.S. learn from Chinese media censorship?” each earned a Silver Key from the 2020 Philadelphia-area Writing Awards.