United WHS Returns: Everything to know about returning to school

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Credit: Emily Staiti

Starting from Monday, October 19, WHS will move on from remote learning to in-person learning. Although there are many restrictions in place to ensure safety, students will be able to get a step closer to a “normal” school life. “We are really excited to see people in person,” assistant principal Sean Gass said. “It makes every faculty member feel better. It feels like this is why we do this work.”

Jonathan Zhang

On Monday, Oct. 19, WHS will take one step closer to “normal school” while starting hybrid learning. However, the high school will have many restrictions and rules set in place to keep the students safe from COVID-19 while doing its best to allow students to lead a somewhat normal school life.

“What we have come to understand is that meeting people comes with tradeoffs,” assistant principal Sean Gass said. “We need to be more stringent and more careful around health and safety. We need to trust each other. We need to be able to rely on each other, and we’re going to lose some things as well.”

Schedule:
During hybrid, students will follow the same schedule they used for remote learning. Students will meet with their odd-numbered periods on Monday and Thursday and their even-numbered periods Tuesday and Friday, regardless of whether they are in school or online. Students in Cohort A will be in school Monday and Tuesday and Cohort B will be in school Thursday and Friday. A student’s cohort can be found on HAC under “registration” where there is a category called House/Team.

In school, students are expected to be ready for their first class at 8:35 a.m., but the school won’t open until 8:15 a.m. For all students, classes will be 80 minutes long. Both cohorts will learn remotely during the days that they aren’t doing in-person learning. Teachers will take attendance via Zoom or Google Forms at the beginning of each period. During the period itself, students may participate in “Zoom to room” where students will listen in to lectures and participate in activities online while the teacher teaches the group of students in real-time. Teachers may also choose to give students asynchronous classwork to complete during the allotted class time.

All students will continue to meet on Wednesdays for advisory. The hybrid model will do away with five-minute advisories, but retain the 25-minute advisories on Wednesdays.

Wednesday is an independent workday for all students, which is held remotely. The day opens up at 10 AM with the extended advisory and concludes at 3:10. Wednesday looks the same as Wednesday in remote learning except that there is an hour-long club meeting time at the end of the day for students who participate in clubs.

For frees, regardless of a student’s grade, if they have a free or study hall first block or last block they can arrive later or leave earlier. In addition, seniors and juniors will still have the privilege to leave campus during their frees.

Lunch:
Lunch will depend on the floor a student’s second-period class is on. If the students are on the first floor of the South building, they will go directly to lunch following their second-period class. Students on the second floor of the South building or in the fine arts or wellness classes will take second lunch following the sanitization of the commons following first lunch. As a result, the second lunch will start at around 1:10. However, students taking the second lunch will have a 15 minutes transition period before their third block class in which they can take the time to relax or take a mask break. The administration will send out more details regarding times to follow.

“The reason we have to do lunches this way is that our custodial staff needs at least 30 minutes with no one in the room in order to effectively sanitize the room,” Gass said.

There will be two places for students to eat lunch indoors: the back half of the field house and the commons. Outdoors will also be open to students as long as they remain far apart. Indoors, students will have to wear masks and sit in an assigned seating area.

COVID-19 Regulations:
First and foremost, students are expected to have a mask on at all times on campus. However, mask breaks will be incorporated into transitions in class, lunch, and frees. Moreover, with the new 10-minute transitional periods between each class, teachers can utilize these breaks to help students and themselves for a nice mask break outside. In addition, students are allowed to take off their masks outside during transitional periods as long as they are six feet apart.

While Wayland still hasn’t gotten to the point where students will be able to take mask breaks inside, the staff are optimistic that that will change soon.

“There are some schools that are taking mask breaks inside,” assistant principal Laura Cole said. “Right now we’re not there yet. We haven’t been approved yet. But we’re hopeful that by working and collaborating with the board of health that we’ll get there.”

In the classroom, students are still expected to follow norms and remain respectful to their teachers. To start, once students enter a classroom, they will have to sanitize. Each class will have a designated hand sanitizer dispenser or a hand-washing sink. Students will then proceed to sit at their desks immediately without loitering around. Desks will have already been wiped and cleaned by the previous class or their teacher. However, students are still welcome to wipe it again.

From there, only one student will be allowed to leave the classroom at a time, and only two students can be in a bathroom at any time.

Every classroom will also have assigned seating to make contact tracing possible. Eating will be prohibited but drinking water will be allowed in the classrooms. Finally, each seat will be six feet apart per social distancing guidelines.

“What’s hard about this is that we really take everything from the state,” Cole said. “So, we have to work around the state parameters, and then the town of Wayland parameters.”

In the hallways, while it’s going to be hard to remain six feet apart, students will have to do their best. There will be very strict hallways movement patterns as well as rules about which students will have to abide by. In addition, during transitional periods there will be no congregating in hallways, using the bathrooms or the nurse’s office, and only traveling down one-way hallways or designated staircases.

Transportation:
Due to safety concerns, bussing for grades 6-12 will not happen this year. Only students from Boston will be provided with busing. Furthermore, students participating in sports are expected to find their own means of transportation.

Message to the Students:
“We are really excited to see people in person,” Gass said. “It makes every faculty member feel better. It feels like this is why we do this work.”

To read more details about what hybrid learning will look like for WHS students, read the Fall 2020 Reopening Plan here.