Three Months In, HHS Students and Teachers Continue Adjusting to In-Person Learning

Students+eat+lunch+in+the+library%2C+another+change+made+to+the+daily+lives+of+HHS+students+since+the+COVID-19+pandemic.

Katie Buelt

Students eat lunch in the library, another change made to the daily lives of HHS students since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Katie Buelt, Reviews Editor

“These are unprecedented times”– a simple, though arguably now overused, phrase that the COVID pandemic has certainly lived up to. The start of the 2021 school year has been no different. So how have HHS students and staff acclimated to their first (somewhat) normal school year since the start of the pandemic?

The mask mandate required by all New Jersey public schools has been an essential tool in ensuring students could safely return to in-person instruction, and one that the majority of students and staff seem to respect. Michele Fisher, HHS’s new principal. weighed in, explaining, “Since the school year has started, the students have been diligent regarding wearing masks and social distancing when possible.” But, she added, “As time has gone on since the start of the school year, I have noticed more masks slipping below the nose.” 

Other, less obvious measures have also been taken to curb the spread of COVID, including testing and quarantine regulations for those who travel out-of-state, all of which follow CDC recommendations for health safety in schools. Fortunately for the administration, whose goal is to maintain in person learning all year, it seems these policies have been working; since the start of the year, eight cases have been reported, including three in the month of October. The result has been a much greater level of freedom for teachers no longer dealing with the barriers of virtual learning.

The math department’s Kevin Hodulik is one such teacher who expressed the anticipation that comes with being back in the classroom. “I’d love to be able to bring back a lot of the group activities that weren’t possible before,” he said. “Projects, labs, and groupwork that make a course meaningful and enjoyable.”

Many of this year’s sophomores are in an especially unique position, having attended HHS for a year without setting foot in the building. Anna Dao is one such sophomore who did virtual instruction all of the 2020-2021 school year. However, she still expressed hope for a relatively normal remainder to her high school career, and gratitude for the teachers who have helped our underclassmen adjust to HHS.

According to Dao, the return to in-person learning, despite its struggles, has been worth it– “It’s been an adjustment, but I like getting to see my friends in person. It’s definitely better than I thought.”

The other major difference this year is the addition of HAP periods, study halls taken by each student on a rotating basis to prevent the overcrowding of the gyms.

Senior Mary Buist is one example of a student who sees this free time as a blessing in disguise. “The addition of HAP helped me make up for the time we lost last year,” she said. “It’s allowed me to meet with teachers and catch up on homework.”

Overall, students and staff alike are bound to have their ups and downs as this school year progresses. Luckily, there seems to be plenty of room for optimism that this truly unprecedented year can be a great one.