Expected changes for the second semester


Donny Harder Jr

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Holly McDonald, Feature Editor

As the second semester lies just around the corner, staff and students expect many changes to occur before the 2020-21 school year ends. 

Lots of apprehensions fill the air as the semester shifts, with promises of new beginnings and hopeful ends of the everlasting remote environment.   

Per Governor Whitmer’s statement encouraging schools to have an in-person learning option by March 1, Rochester Community Schools has created a plan for students to return back to the classrooms. This plan will begin on January 25, in which elementary school students and some special education students will begin the in-person transition. Following them, middle school is expected to return to a hybrid schedule on February 1. The last phase of return concludes with high school students, following a hybrid schedule beginning February 8. 

“When we return, it will be with a hybrid schedule, but potentially different from the one we used in the fall,” Interim Assistant Principal Mr. Dan Amore said. “The intent is to eventually return to a normal, in-person schedule once it is safe to do so. Sanitation and other mitigation measures will remain in place.”

Following a hybrid schedule will allow the administration to better evaluate and take precautions for staff and student safety. 

“A hybrid environment is necessary at this point for many reasons,” Mr. Robert Byrd said. “The main reasons are to be able to contact trace in case of an outbreak or multitude of COVID cases as well as to not overload the systems that work behind the scenes at a school district such as transportation, food services, etc.  Everything is much different due to the pandemic, and student safety is the utmost concern.”

As the semester wraps up on Jan. 15, students await their next semester classes. Scheduling has not been finalized but is expected to be given to students in the morning of Jan. 19. 

Scheduling for the second semester has had more difficulties in the past, as many students shift to and from the virtual academy.  

“More students did return to in-person learning than moved to the Virtual Campus, so extra care and time is being spent scheduling students appropriately,” Mr. Byrd said. “This is why students are not receiving their schedules as normal.”

Many questions still remain unanswered about the spring such as graduation and standardized testing, however, as more time is spent in person, the staff will continue to evaluate the circumstances of what is the safest for students.

“As long as [the SAT] is safe to do so, we will make it happen,” Mr. Amore said.

Individual schools do not get to pick and choose standardized testing dates and how to administer them, these rules are made by the College Board. Further information is expected to be answered by the College Board as the spring test dates approach.

“We always follow guidance from the College Board as well as the Michigan Department of Education when it comes to the delivery of the PSAT and the SAT,” Mr. Byrd said. “That process will continue in the spring, so stay tuned and follow information from the Counseling Department.”

With teachers next in line for COVID vaccinations, there is a promising glimpse for the future of schools.

“I am looking forward to getting the vaccine and starting to return to a sense of normalcy,” Mr. Byrd said.

No matter what the future holds, staff and students are excited to see where the second semester will take them and what new adventures await. 

“I’m looking forward to students being back in the building and hopefully getting closer to normal,” Mr. Amore said. “The kids are what make RHS what it is and I can’t wait to experience everything that makes this place so special.”