Despite the continued onset of COVID-19, schools have decided to open back up, but they can’t return to normal just yet. With the introduction of modalities- different times that students are going to school, either brick and mortar, hybrid, or full e-learning- teachers were assigned one modality that they could teach. In contrast, only 20 teachers at each Manatee County school who had to teach all three modalities got compensation of $6,000. This created an issue for students and teachers alike, especially for the elective classes, since most elective teachers can only teach one modality instead of their preferred course. Leading to the drop in many advanced electives since teachers could not teach all three modalities in each class.
The changing of modalities and classes has been a struggle for teachers and students alike, since both are forced into either teaching or being in classes they did not choose. To illustrate, music classes were combined into “music theory,” the theatre, dance, speech and cinema classes were put into “musical theatre,” art classes including painting, ceramics, photography and 2-D Studio were lumped into “studio art 1,” and engineering, robotics, digital info tech, digital design and more were split into either “advanced tech applications” or “business management and law.” All of these classes are generic versions of their regular school counterparts, which were not what the student had in mind.
Gym classes were also combined, meaning that weightlifting and other more focused types of athletic courses were combined to make basic gym classes that included freshman to senior students.
“Any football classes, weightlifting classes, anything to do with weights or gym, they just put it all into one class… I don’t know if I am going to switch out of it or not yet, but for right now we’re not really doing anything; they said that we’d be doing regular gym stuff,” said senior Lennon Thorne.
Thorne signed up for weightlifting and football classes that would help him get extra practice in for football season, but now he is in a regular gym class with kids who maybe aren’t as dedicated to sports as he is.
Like Thorne, sophomore Thomas Zinna also signed up for a class that could not be taught this year due to lack of teacher modalities: Senate. This class is basically the school’s spirit and government, decorating for spirit days and homecoming, but with schools being on the fence about doing homecoming, the class was dropped entirely, and Zinna was placed in the Business Management and Law class, which is a little different than school spirit.
“I signed up for Senate, or student council because I like to be active in our school and everything and I like to be a part of homecoming, prom and football games… Senate is much more active with the school and everything and this [business class] is just another class,” stated Zinna.
Zinna, though, said he didn’t hate the class, that it was pretty straightforward, and he wanted to keep an open mind about the whole ordeal to see where this course takes him.
Other students like freshmen Maria Weese and Mariah Hernandez were put in classes way out of their comfort zone, forcing them to learn totally new skills. Both girls were placed into the generic Studio Art 1, even though neither of them signed up for an art credit. Weese is more interested in music classes like band but said she didn’t have a choice in her elective. Hernandez mentioned she was more involved in tech, and wanted to finish getting her Microsoft certification this year, but didn’t get into the class that taught it.
“I wanted to finish things that would have benefited me in the future for computers, but I mean art’s okay I guess… I think I’m okay [at art] I’m working on it. He’s [Mr. Reiber] a chill teacher and explains things thoroughly so I can understand it,” said Hernandez about not being art minded in an art class.
Students weren’t the only ones whose schedules got messed up due to the dropping of classes and the different modalities. Teachers were too.
The teachers were told the week before school started what classes they would be teaching, and for some, these classes weren’t what they were accustomed to. Mrs. Ronderos has taught Spanish 1 and 3 Honors for many years now and has compiled resources to use to teach these classes. Ronderos said she could teach them without the book if needed.
But due to the change in class style this year, Ronderos was assigned to only teach the hybrid students of all four Spanish classes- Spanish 1 through 4.
“The things that I’m struggling with is that you cant move as fast as you want because you only see a group for two days and then you see the other group for the other two days so I’m trying to cover the most important things for the week during the times the students are here and leave the rest for practice,” said Mrs. Ronderos.
But Ronderos further expressed that there were some positives about the system as well, like having smaller class sizes which allows her more one-on-one time working with students on their speaking ability. This shows how, while there are a lot of things wrong with the new system to combat COVID-19, there are positives as well, and we will be able to get through it.