Students Express a Mixture of Concern and Excitement Surrounding New Four-Day Learning Model

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Fia Cooper

“It might be hard at first, but I can’t wait to see what happens,” sophomore Jasmine McIntosh said.

Avery Rush and Brooklyn Chillemi

The recent news that La Salle will transition to four days of in-person learning per week beginning on April 12 has resulted in a mixture of thoughts and feelings among students.

Since returning to campus, La Salle’s hybrid model has offered students the opportunity to switch their method of learning at the end of each month. This week, many classes saw new faces on campus since some students chose to give the hybrid system a try before learning of the revised plan for in-person learning. 

For junior Ava Whalon, the announcement came as she was already trying to adjust to her first week of hybrid learning after just recently opting into the schedule. “I just started coming back to school in person this week, so it is a little overwhelming for sure,” Whalon said. “I worry for the people who haven’t gotten a chance to ease into the hybrid schedule because I think it might be a little bit much to jump right into four days a week.”

Similarly, senior Robby Collman feels that this change is arriving when in-person learning is still something he is adjusting to. “The big thing for me is, we just went back to two days,” he said. “We’re just getting used to that now.”

While there are several concerns surrounding the plan, some students acknowledge the importance of in-person interactions that the four-day format might provide. “Having a good group of friends to either hang out with or just talk to on the phone really helped me, so I didn’t really experience any mental health issues,” Collman said. “But I do know a lot of kids struggled with that through online school.”

Some students have expressed excitement around returning to school full time, as their ability to stay engaged and organized has been largely impacted by digital learning.

“I am very excited to go back to four days,” freshman Jasmine McIntosh said. “I think it will help me have a better schedule, and I’ll have more opportunities to get help on assignments.”

In addition to acknowledging the need for social interaction, some remote learners are optimistic that the four-day schedule will be beneficial towards the bonds they can form with peers and teachers.

“By being online, I miss out on the opportunity to build a relationship with my teachers and be comfortable hopping in whenever I want to ask a question,” junior Kate Collins said. “I think [that] helps me get a little bit more in-depth of an understanding.”

For seniors, the return to in-person learning provides new opportunities to adjust to the school environment that many will need to re-enter in college. “I definitely miss the social aspect of being at school,” Collman said. “It’s just going to prepare me for college next year.”

Collman didn’t decide to switch to hybrid himself — his mother chose for him. “I wasn’t very excited because I just want to finish out my senior year since I’m so close to graduating,” he said. But in the end, he said it was “probably a smart decision.” 

While the social aspects that will return with close to full-time in-person learning are a positive aspect for some, many students still have concerns about the safety of returning because of the pandemic. 

“This feels like the administration’s big push to make things ‘normal’ again, but normal doesn’t just look like stuffing as many people as possible into a building,” senior Luke Thompson said. 

Collman agreed and said that while coming back is important, prioritizing safety is more so. “With them adding four days, I almost want to just do online school,” he said, although he still supported his mom’s choice to have him proceed with 4-day hybrid learning. “It might even cause a little bit of anxiety for myself, going back four days a week because I’m not used to it.” 

With most students still without vaccinations, some expressed safety concerns, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines surrounding social distancing. “I think with adding the four-day plan, I’m just kind of worried about the hallways,” Collman said. “But as long as we’re all wearing masks, I think that [it] will be fine as the school year progresses [and] more kids get vaccinated.”

Alternatively, some students feel that the safety guidelines in place are adequate and that they have been able to adjust. “The safety precautions taken at school are easy to follow, and it has started to become a routine,” sophomore Mariah Moore said. “The new plan doesn’t worry me because I know that La Salle will put the best plans in place for a safe environment.”

Although students are willing to adjust to some challenges that may arise with a four-day schedule, some students wish their voices were heard more when the administration made this decision.

“My major complaint with the plan is that the administration did not consult any students, and instead surveyed parents,” Thompson said. “We spent eleven months learning from home, and the school needs to understand that it will take time for a lot of people to readjust to in-person schooling.” 

Despite a few reservations, some students are choosing to keep an open mind about the change.

“The school keeps phrasing it as a ‘four-day option,’ but it seems more like an all or nothing model to me,” Whalon said. “I think I am going to give the four days a week a try and sort of play it by ear.”

Like Whalon, McIntosh is planning to try out the four-day model. “It might be hard at first, but I can’t wait to see what happens,” McIntosh said.