Returning to a “Normal” School Year


Jerome Favre/ Pool via REUTERS

Jordan Glassman, Staff Writer


Being maskless, attending school five days a week in-person, learning and having certain freedoms is what a typical high school year should look like. However, the challenges of the past year and half due to the Covid-19 pandemic altered everything we know about “normal” school with virtual and hybrid learning models. Luckily, since most of the Harriton population has been vaccinated, our school has been able to shift towards a more “normal” school year and environment for the 2021-2022 year. 


One of the biggest challenges last year was  a lack of routine due to the constant changes to our school schedules and models. We went from virtual to hybrid and then to in-person with asynchronous Fridays. We never knew when something could impact our schedules. Although I loved waking up later during full virtual days, all of these changes affected my sleep schedule — as did other students. The change from Zoom classes to in-person school to Zoom again negatively affected the ability to get the best education possible. Returning to five days a week of in-person school this year is definitely challenging, but as much as we all hate waking up before the crack of dawn, it is ultimately beneficial for us academically and socially as it brings some consistency back to our schedules.


Before Covid, if someone told us we needed to wear masks to school, or anywhere, we would have thought they were crazy! But masks have become a part of our everyday “uniform.” I hate wearing masks and I know you all do too, but unfortunately they are here to stay for now. That being said, although masks are still required to be worn during and in between classes, students actually got a win. What win you might be thinking? The win of more leniency of the mask mandate during Lunch and Learn and outside. One of the major differences between this year and last year is that we can now sit anywhere we want, inside or outside the school, with our friends and without masks during Lunch and Learn. Along with this, we can also take off our masks when properly distanced outside. While not perfect or totally normal, this is significantly better than last year.


Prior to Covid, a typical Harriton student had Lunch and Learn and/or free periods throughout the day. During these blocks of time, students had the freedom to hang out with friends, work on projects and assignments, visit teachers for additional help, etc. These freedoms were eliminated in the initial Covid era. During Lunch and Learn and free periods, students had to stay socially distanced and separated and were confined to specific spaces including the cafeteria, gym, limited outdoor and indoor spaces, and classrooms. 


The vaccine has enabled pre-Covid freedoms to be accessible again which is certainly better than last year. As of now, freshmen and sophomores aren’t permitted to participate in the full Lunch and Learn experience. They have been assigned to either Lunch 1 or Lunch 2 and then have to report to a Learn teacher when not in Lunch. My opinion is that at least the sophomores should be able to participate in a full regular Lunch and Learn at this point.