WMC’s Covid Comeback


In person class sizes are sometimes as small as just one student

Back to school this year has been like no other year prior, and WMC students are adjusting to this new way of learning, in this socially distant and well sanitized learning environment. But, exactly how safe do they feel while attending in person school here at West Morris Central?

Since the end of last school year, things have improved from all angles. Everyone seems more organized, and classes have been more efficient in this unique learning environment. Administrators, teachers and students have all been working to make this school year as effective as possible, while maintaining the safety standards put in place to keep WMC a safe place to learn.

The administrative team has been working tirelessly since the beginning of March to get all staff and students back into the building in as safe a way as possible. West Morris Central’s principal, Mr. Rymer has been a large part of the success of re-opening our school and states “A team of administrative assistants, teachers, and administrators worked extremely hard this summer to develop a safe, responsible, and durable reopening plan”. He then goes on to say “Our fall athletics teams successfully returned to the fields in early July.  We re-opened our doors to students in August.  Student activities have resumed again, we are closing in on the end of the first marking period, and our winter activities are preparing to begin in early December.  Indeed, it has been a great start to the school year at WMC.” By all members of the WMC community abiding by social distancing enforcements and mask requirements, the school has been able to resume in person learning, sports, and activities.

Teachers have also been adjusting to this new way of learning, just in a different way than the students have. Brand new programs and applications have been added to all school administered computers in order for the teachers to be able to have the best possible set up for their virtual learning platform. Mr. Staine of WMC’s Biology department states “Just becoming more familiar with Google Suite…specifically Classroom, Meet, Kami…etc.” has been the biggest obstacle that he has faced while teaching so many remote students. Mr. Staine also states that “Not that we’re doing much in the lab area right now” due to not being able to be hands on in the classroom together, as labs would normally be run.  

One part of school that is going to be drastically different is test taking and its effects on students overall grades. This may also result in lower stress levels in all students, resulting in a more happy and healthy student body.  “School is a lot easier like this because tests are set up differently. So I don’t think it will have the same effect” said Maddy Phillips, a senior, here at WMC. Testing has always been a major stress factor for students, but this year since very few  actual “tests” are going to take place in classrooms, students are predicting this year to be one of their most successful academically yet.

However, lowered stress levels have a price, and that is the inability to socialize as much while in school and being required to maintain a 6 ft distance from everyone. School has always been about the interactions students have with  classmates, teachers and administrators, along with the quality education. But this year it is very difficult to accomplish such a strong relationship due to the fact that to many students, these people are just faces on a screen. 

             Although the students have had to make so many adjustments to how their learning environment is run, it is all for their own good and health. Many students believe that the school is doing a very good job to keep the learning environment as safe and healthy as possible, making everyone feel comfortable with coming to school. Senior Emily Bissell stated “Wiping down the desks and using hand sanitizers for every class is a new addition that makes me feel as though it is safe to be at school.” Even though the “fun factor” of school has been reduced, students all understand why such precautions are being taken and are happy that they are at least able to be back in the building for the start of this school year. 

            While some students are really struggling with focusing on their school work while constantly being home, others have been enjoying the relaxed learning experience. The hybrid model is working well for me. I like the balance between going to school and staying home. It goes by quicker at home though. However, I do like going into school and being with my teachers and classmates so I don’t wish it was all at home,” continues Phillips. Seniors don’t care as much about the way that they are learning as some freshmen do. This transition into high school for freshmen was a unique experience, unlike anything that upperclassmen experienced. WMC freshman Derek Hedworth stated “It’s hard to get to know the people in my classes.” Freshman are entering a brand new school with people who they have never talked to before. Not getting the chance to learn and interact with classmates and teachers have had a major impact on the way that students are learning and how effectively it is sticking. 

All students are very appreciative of all that the WMRHSD staff and administration has done in order to make this school year as interactive and safe as they possibly can while minimizing the risk of this virus spreading through our school. The adjustments from a student’s perspective have been difficult, but definitely manageable, and all students are just hoping for the opportunity to all be back in school again safely as soon as possible.

TV’s have been installed in all classrooms for teachers to project their virtual students on
Margaret Layfield, junior, is sanitizing at the stations that are set up in every classroom