Challenges emerge in first week back

As students return from school, LM is staying updated on how students are reacting to the new dynamic of the school and how classes are organized. With a survey, LM can analyze how safe students feel as well as get input on the new 4-day schedule.

Photo courtesy of Aiko Palaypayon ’23/Staff

On March 22, students had the option to return to full in-person learning. Students can choose to attend class in person four days a week or stay at home full time, but they can only switch between in-person and virtual learning on a biweekly basis.  There are now seven minutes between classes, four lunch periods, and far more students in the building daily than in the hybrid schedule. Many students have strong opinions about the new changes, and The Merionite conducted a survey to better understand the student body’s thoughts. 

Reviews of the new, modified schedule were mostly positive. When asked how they felt about the new schedule, 61.5 percent of the students rated it a four or five out of five. Freshman Mariah Cintron stated that, “It’s going to be a tough adaptation, but LM students have been adapting this whole year, so I think we can handle it.” Ike Mittman ’22 added that, “Being online is no substitute whatsoever for in-person learning. I find I’m retaining information so much better now that I’m in twice as often.” Only 5.7 percent of the students rated the new schedule a one out of five. Overall, students are adjusting to the new schedule very well and seem to enjoy being back in school four days a week. 

While the majority of students like the new schedule and being back in the building, opinions on the four lunches is another story. Only 8.2 percent of students rated the four lunches as a five out of five. Meanwhile, 58.2 percent of the students rated the four lunches as a 2.5 out of five. Several students have many suggestions on how to make the lunch arrangements better. For example, junior Tisya Sharma said that, “There needs to be a better system for lunch, maybe more outdoor seating by using tents.” Regina Becerril ’24 suggested another option, stating, “If there’s already enough people, we could find a way to organize the lunches by grades instead of what we are doing now.” Additionally, while some students are okay with the four lunches, they are unhappy with the unintended consequences. An anonymous freshman stated that, “I think that lunch wasn’t ever really an issue so they sort of just fixed something that wasn’t broken. It makes one of the classes an hour and a half which just seems excessive to me.” 

The survey had very mixed responses on whether or not students feel safe in the building. Approximately 26.9 percent of students said that they feel completely safe in the building, only 13.5 percent said they didn’t feel safe at all in the building, and 59.6 percent fell somewhere in between. The larger consensus is that students feel safe but also recognize the risks. Freshman Dani Itkin-Ofer said, “I think that they’re doing their best to try to keep us safe, but there’s always gonna be some sort of risk with having everyone go back.” Max Fishman ’22 expanded on this opinion, stating that, “It’s a little crowded at times, especially in the hallways, but given the consultation with experts I feel okay.” In general, most students feel safe enough to come into the building but take note of the uncertainty involved. 

Despite the varied answers on students’ safety, when asked if they thought LM was doing a good job of enforcing social distancing, the results are clear. Only six students feel that LM does a good job all of the time, while 66 students said that they didn’t think students were maintaining social distance guidelines at all. Jonah Zohar ’23 explained that, “People are not social distancing in the hallways and on the stairs.” Instances where social distancing is ignored include lunch, the staircases, and the hallways, especially in between classes. Most students feel very strongly about the lack of mask wearing and absence of consequences for not wearing a mask. Junior Shoshana Promer stated that, “They do a horrendous job of enforcing mask wearing. I see people walking around with masks below noses or even below mouths.” The carelessness when it comes to COVID guidelines has also angered many students. Sophomore Julia Dubnoff added that the student body “is treating the pandemic like an afterthought at the moment.”

There have been obstacles present all year long revolving around the pandemic. LM’s transition to full in-person learning has been seen as yet another with a new schedule that students must adjust to in order to resemble some form of normalcy. The survey helped shed some light on what the student body was feeling about the new schedule and social dynamics. Some students like the new schedule and feel perfectly safe in the building, others are unsure and feel very uncomfortable, and most fall somewhere in the middle. Regardless of where you stand, COVID-19 has required each of us to make changes to the way we attend school and live our lives.