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How COVID is affecting rules in the school system

May 21, 2021 10:45 AM

Photo Essays

Coronavirus has changed the world irreparably and has changed many rules and expectations, especially in schools. Many of these changes have protected and helped us during this hard time, but as we begin to move toward normalcy, some of these changes are holding us back. This essay will illustrate rules that have helped us and changes that are hurting us, and show how things used to be.

Many schools in the BPS system used to have quite early start times. For example, my school, Boston Latin Academy, used to start at 7:20 in the morning. There was a lot of debate on whether the time should be pushed back, but it wasn’t acted upon until COVID. The start time moved first to 9:00 in the morning, then 8:00. This has helped both students and teachers get more sleep, and be more productive. I would consider this change not only helpful during this hard time, but a progression in general.

My school’s early start time meant that the buses to school, both the yellow buses and the supplemental MBTA buses, had to pick students up early as well. But now that we start later, it isn’t necessary for students to be at school as early. Despite this, the MBTA is, for some reason, unwilling to change the pick up times for the express buses. This means that many students, including myself, get to school almost an hour before we need to. This is unfortunate because it keeps many students from wanting to go to school and is holding us further back from normalcy.

One unexpected positive improvement that has come from Coronavirus, at least at my school, is the QR code sign-in. When we arrive at school in the morning, all students sign in using a QR code that is linked to a Google form in order to confirm that they are coming into school for the day. While it seems like it would be an annoying ordeal, it is actually quite simple and helpful. I think it would even be helpful once we get back to normal; the staff could see when and if students have come to school.

Until very recently, students and teachers had to stay six feet away from each other at school. Because of this regulation, Boston Latin Academy had designated “up” and “down” stairways, as well as a rule that said we could only go one direction in the hallways. As you can probably imagine, this rule was quite annoying. You often would have to go a much longer route to get from place to place. Thankfully, these rules have been rescinded due to too many students disobeying them. Still, I don’t think that they were necessary in the first place. So few students came to school when they were in action that crowded hallways weren't really a problem.

My school used to enforce a pretty strict dress code for gym; black athletic pants, black sneakers, and the official Dragons gym shirt. If you made any deviations from the uniform, you would be docked points for the day. But now that we are back from full-time virtual school, there are no enforced gym uniforms. This is totally unnecessary and is actually having negative effects on the students. Now that they have no guide for what to wear, many students are showing in completely inappropriate attire. This new rule, or lack thereof, is holding us back.

This change doesn’t really fall under a positive or negative category, it’s just an annoying side effect of Coronavirus. After missing most of the school year, schools have had to make up fire drills. Because students are coming back in waves, we have had them almost weekly. While this has interrupted learning, I can see why this it’s necessary. The rules about fire drills, and many other things for that matter, weren’t made with a worldwide pandemic in mind.

The most obvious change in schools is that students are using computers on a much more regular basis. Many schools even have their in-person students on Zoom meetings in the classroom. Whether or not this is a bad thing is debatable. I personally think that because of how this school year’s curriculum has been made, it will take too much effort to make official changes around how computers are dealt with in the classroom. Teachers just need to keep doing their best, and we can figure this out next year.

Coronavirus has taken a toll on us, our schools and the whole world. It has changed rules and regulations in all areas of life, and while many of them are just natural side effects or things that are really helping us, some of them are holding us back from normalcy. So while we should definitely be cautious, we need to start thinking critically and scientifically before assuming what will be beneficial during this time.