On August 10th, for the first time in 150 days, students reported to the New Castle High School building for an in-person day of school.
The debate raged on throughout the spring and summer whether New Castle Community Schools would go virtual or brick-and-mortar. In the end, a compromise was reached where students and their parents would decide if they wanted to physically go back to school or do online learning. According to Dr. Matthew Shoemaker at a School Board meeting on July 23rd, approximately 470 students across the school corporation signed up for the virtual academy. He updated that total to about 20% of the student enrollment at the August 10th school board meeting.
More changes were brought besides mask mandates, social distancing and virtual learning. The school day was shortened by almost an half an hour, with students now being dismissed from school at 2:32 PM. The class periods have now been shortened by five minutes.
Many students have been excited with the option to go back to school instead of doing the virtual academy.
” I decided to physically go back to school because I am able to learn better in a physical setting, not online,” Sophomore Gen Davison said.
Other people wanted to come back for their senior year. One of them was Blake McKown.
“I wanted my senior year to be as normal as possible,” McKown said.
The high school has made every effort to make the school day as normal as possible while following health protocol, safety measures, and not making huge distractions to the educational process.
Even with the normality of school being back in session, the threat of the novel Coronavirus still looms in the air and remains the biggest concern for students this school year.
“My biggest concern is getting sick or my friends getting sick,” Senior Conner Wiley said.
“I’m concerned for how long we will be able to be in school, ” Sophomore Alyssa Bacos said.
“My biggest concern this year is obviously Covid. For the most part I feel pretty safe. I definitely do think that it gets a little crowded at times, but really that’s the only thing that really worries me,” Sophomore Gracie Helms said.
Even with the threat of COVID-19, students are still finding ways to enjoy this school year with their friends. Add in the great starts to girls golf, volleyball, and football, and it looks like the 2020-2021 will be a memorable year for everyone.
The careful procedures that New Castle Schools has worked to put in place has worked. As of August 31st, only one student in the New Castle Community School Corporation tested positive for COVID-19. This caused the middle school and the high school to go virtual on August 17th, and all schools were back in session by the next day.
In the event of many students contacting the novel Coronavirus and being asked to quarantine, students find it acceptable if the school corporation makes the decision to go 100% virtual.
“If the conditions were to change I do definitely think it would be safer for us all to do virtual. I don’t particularly like doing school virtually, but if that’s what is safest for our health then i’d definitely choose the safer option,” Sophomore Gracie Helms said.
“I will switch to virtual academy if conditions change because I want to be able to play sports in the winter,” Sophomore Wyatt Barrett said.
Students have also said as long as it is optional, they will still go to school.
“If conditions change my thought of being here wouldn’t change. I want to be here because I learn better that way,” senior Karley Redd said.
As we go through an extraordinary school year, students are glad to be back, seeing their teachers and friends for the first time in almost 5 months, and being able to return to some resemblance of normalcy. This school year, no matter what happens, will be one to remember for a long time to come.