Looking at Manual after the COVID-19 pandemic

Justin Farris

The Courier Journal’s education reporter Mandy McLaren recently reported on the Kentucky Department of Education’s plans for reopening schools for the 2020-21 school year. It’s no surprise school may look a lot different come fall, but just how different will it look for Manual?

Going back

First off, when and how school will start is in question. We could have A/B days with half of the students going to school every day, or we may have normal classes. A/B days would have two groups of students, each coming in on alternating days throughout the school week. Beyond that though, the question of who those groups would be and how it would work are very up in the air and unknown. Of course, there is a chance we could continue NTI at the beginning of the year or may even return to it if another wave of coronavirus were to occur.

In addition, the Kentucky Department of Education has released guidelines for the reopening of school that contain plans for starting early (mid-June), late (September or October), or on time (mid-August), so when or if we will actually return to school is still unknown.

What classes may look like

For Manual specifically, how will our alternating block schedule work if we’re only at school half the time? Maybe we’ll have to shift to a schedule with two red days in a row, then two white days in a row. There are also proposals to livestream classes for the students who aren’t physically present. It’s likely masks will be required for students, at least initially, and we may very well not meet some of our classmates in person at all for a while.

It is also possible that if we were to have in-person classes, class sizes could be smaller to keep students away from each other as much as possible. The small classrooms will pose an interesting challenge to overcome in order to keep up social distancing. Furthermore, large gatherings such as the cafeteria in the morning, transitions with crowded hallways and lunch are all things that will probably look a little different next year.

School events

What about extracurriculars and school events? We may see bans on assemblies and pep rallies until the virus is contained, and sports may be cancelled or played without a live audience which could bring serious changes to Red/White Week this upcoming year. It’s possible clubs and field trips will also be put on hold. Being unable to participate in sports or extracurriculars may impact our college applications.

Some of these questions don’t have easy answers. This virus is likely to shake up many things, here and abroad, and both in and outside the education system. But there is one thing amidst the uncertainty that I can say for certain. Manual students are some of the most creative, capable, adaptable, flexible, talented and intelligent people I’ve ever met. No matter what happens, we will get through this, and we’ll do it together. No virus is going to stop the Rams.

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