By Natalie P. ’23 and Lauren H. ’23
The Winsor School is no stranger to virtual learning, and yet, most students can still vividly remember hugging their classmates, attending school-wide assemblies, and frolicking around mask-free on 103 Pilgrim Road just last March. Winsor’s COVID-19 school reopening team, tasked with creating a plan that prioritized the health of the community and the education of its students, introduced a five-day hybrid schedule that has provided both new benefits and challenges to the student body. Through interviewing Lower School and Upper School students, the Banner was able to gain a better insight into the positive aspects, as well as the obstacles, of this new schedule.
During our interview with Amelia Z. ’21, she described how the hybrid schedule has reshaped her senior year at Winsor in unexpected ways. Amelia stated how “one thing that [she] does not enjoy as much for this hybrid schedule is how little [synchronous] class time we have.” It is no secret that independent learning has promoted an increase in efficiency and organization among most students, prompting them to become more independent in their studies. However, as Amelia noted, the cutback on synchronous classes has forced students to not only teach themselves unquestionably difficult material but to also rely heavily on their textbooks and other online resources for guidance.
Valeria G. ’23 agreed with Amelia that right now, “there is not much time to look back and make sure you’re on the right track because new material is constantly being thrown at us.” This new method of learning can become quite frustrating and demanding, especially in Advanced Placement courses. As a solution, some students have recommended a reduction of passing time from twenty minutes to ten. While mask breaks are certainly needed, shortening break times could generate more time for in-person classes. In addition, this adjustment might also grant students earlier dismissal times.
However, some students are very enthusiastic about the hybrid schedule. Avery H. ‘24 and her classmates are in their first year of Upper School, which can be a difficult transition for anyone, especially during a pandemic. Nevertheless, Avery finds that the flexibility of the hybrid schedule “has made it easier to see friends” and has made her “appreciate being on campus much more.” Additionally, the ability to physically attend school on Thursdays and Fridays has given Avery “that normalcy in [her] life of in-person school.” While Avery’s academic workload has increased this semester, she notes that students “also have more time to do [homework].”
Many students have echoed the sentiment that having no classes on Wednesday has allowed them to leisurely complete their assignments and presented a much-needed break to their busy week. Another improvement for both faculty and students has been the delayed first period start time of 8:40 am. Members of the Winsor community with long commutes, like Valeria, have found that having the extra time in the mornings has made them “more rested and even more mentally present in classes than before.”
Aside from academics, the hybrid schedule has also impacted student life and after-school activities. For example, Zaara M. ‘26 noted that “having a hybrid schedule impacts sports because we can only do in-person two days a week.” Like Zaara, many Wildcats are hoping for more frequent in-person practices. Although holding sports competitions with other schools is out of the question for now, some athletes are optimistic about having games starting in the winter season.
Zaara would also like to have the option of going “inside during lunch because sometimes it is boring outside for an hour.” In the past, students had the luxury of using their lunch period as they pleased, whether they wanted to eat in the cafeteria, study in the library, or go up to their classroom early. Now, with the heightened safety measures, it has proven difficult for students to adapt to the restrictive lunch policies. This development is just one of the many new realities for students due to COVID-19, and it will be interesting to see if campus activity will ever return to “normal.”