Manual students share mixed responses to non-traditional instruction this fall

RedEye Staff

According to reports from the Courier Journal, JCPS will likely forgo in-person instruction and begin the school year with virtual, non-traditional instruction.

Six out of seven board members from JCPS will vote for this development this coming Tuesday, citing that sending kids back to school is too risky as COVID-19 cases spike in Kentucky.

This report comes just days before Dr. Polio’s recommendation that JCPS start the 2020-21 school year off with six weeks of NTI learning before considering returning to in-person teaching. 

Although JCPS was working to find a safe and practical way to send students and teachers back into the classroom this fall, the spike of cases in the state caused them to reconsider those plans.

The thought of returning to NTI this fall has impacted Manual students in a number of ways, with some looking forward to an at-home experience, while others are filled with disappointment and concern for the upcoming school year.

Mikayla Huynh (12, HSU) is a rising senior who finished off her junior year unsatisfied with NTI, but says JCPS made the right decision. 

“I hate online classes because sometimes class isn’t taught well or the work is hard without guidance, but this is the best thing to do, and I’d hate JCPS more if they decided to do in-class instruction,” Huynh said.

Luc Fabing (11, HSU) worries he will miss out on important memories. 

“I’m disappointed, of course, that we’re not going back to school in person,” Fabing said. “High school’s pretty brief, and I’d like to enjoy it. However, this is probably the safest decision JCPS could make.”

Other students, like Kaylee Hash (11, HSU), look forward to the freedom online schooling gives them. 

“I’m actually really happy about school being on NTI because it gives me more time for myself,” Hash said. “I feel like I have better mental health because if I needed to I could take a break from doing school work and do the rest later.”

Story Napier (10, HSU) was excited when NTI first started, as she thought it would be a good experience to try and learn in her own space. 

“I think starting online has both its positives and negatives,” Napier said. “Personally I believe that online school gives students who may suffer from anxiety a chance to be in a more comfortable space and focus on work. On the other hand not being in a social situation may make social anxiety worse by not experiencing that small dose each day.”

Gwyneth Cunningham (10, HSU), on the other hand, believes online instruction was not good for students’ mental health. 

“I know calling off school is the best decision right now, but I also know so many people who felt like their mental health suffered during NTI,” Cunningham said. “It’s important to try and stay safe, but I think NTI will leave most of us wishing school was over, or at the very least to be back in the classroom.”

For YPAS students like Anna Berry (12, YPAS), a musical theatre major, NTI was a difficult transition, but she thinks her teachers have done a good job of keeping virtual learning beneficial. 

“At first, I was very skeptical about it, but the MT faculty really did a great job of continuing our learning,” Berry said. “Mrs. Evans especially did a great job of bringing in guest speakers with so much experience and valuable knowledge. I am worried about our fall performance and workshop and how that will continue, but I have no doubt that between the students and teachers we’ll make it work somehow.”

Lainey Holland (12, J&C) has mixed feelings about starting the school year with NTI. As editor-in-chief of On The Record, she’s learning how to manage staff from home. 

“While I believe NTI is the right choice for the safety of JCPS students and staff, starting off my senior year online is, nonetheless, a little heartbreaking. Our magnet is in an especially tough situation because we rely on in-person contact and collaboration for our staff,” Holland said.

However, Holland has been making the most of the situation.

“For my staff, we fully jumped into coverage in March. I didn’t think I would like just pursuing online stories, but it gave me the opportunity to write/photograph/design anything. We really stepped up our web content during NTI last year, so I’m extremely hopeful for what this year will bring,” Holland said.

While NTI has brought about both excitement and concern, JCPS wants to emphasize that the safety of their students is their top priority.

“Although I’m disappointed, it’s the right decision by far,” Lily Wobbe (11, J&C) said. “Lives are not expendable.”