Virtual learning for some students has been a tough road. Knowing that hybrid learning is approaching has been a relief for those struggling, but there are others who feel comfortable with continuing virtual learning.
Over 600 of Kenwood’s 1700 students have chosen to return to the building with FALS and a few CTE students returning March 15. Ninth graders return on March 22nd, and 10-12th graders return after Spring Break on April 6.
Due to COVID-19, school buildings have been closed for almost a year. Now with hybrid learning set to begin in March, parents, students, and staff are curious what this new schedule and procedures at Kenwood High will look like as we finish this unique school year.
The principal of Kenwood High School, Brian Powell, addresses four common concerns about the return: safety protocols, academic goals, student engagement, and instructional program as items in the best interest of students and staff.
Safety is the main concern that many have about returning to the buildings due to the current ongoing cases of COVID-19. It is one of the central reasons why some students are choosing to continue virtual learning instead. But with hybrid learning starting, it raises the question: How will students and staff maintain a safe environment throughout the building?
Mr. Powell shares, “Kenwood administration has worked along with BCPS officials and received guidance from the CDC and Baltimore County Health Department to ensure the safety of students and staff. More information regarding procedures and the specifics are under Kenwood High School Hybrid Learning Guidelines and Information on the Kenwood High School website. This information is also being shared with families via phone and email on a regular basis.”
Hybrid learning is new for everyone. Different routines and schedules can be challenging for staff and students who are either staying virtual or starting a new way of learning with the hybrid format. It impacts everyone, even the students staying virtual, so there will be new challenges for everyone involved. Senior Laila L worries, “I’m afraid my teachers may forget about those of us online.” Though this is a legit concern as teachers will be adjusting to balancing both students in their room and online, Mr. Powell cautions everyone to have patience. “The teachers are going to be learning something new as they teach their students in person and virtually. Staff will have access to webcams and are able to use their projection screens.”
Like anywhere else the past year, students and staff will be expected to wear masks throughout the day. Other changes that students should be aware of is that stairwells will be listed to go one direction. There will also be extended time between classes to allow for students to better social distance and to be able to get to classes on time with the stairwell adjustments. Classes will be eighty minutes long and virtual students will still attend at those times through Google Meets. Schoology, as it’s been, will still be the main platforms for completing and submitting assignments. Starting March 15th, Kenwood school hours will return to 7:45 AM to 2:15 PM.
With hybrid learning approaching’ some students feel they will be able to accomplish more than they could with virtual learning. A Kenwood math student shares, “I am a hands-on learner, especially for math, so I’m looking forward to returning to the classroom for my math class.” Hybrid learning gives students the chance to finally have a reason to be outdoors, away from their homes, see classmates and favorite teachers. For some students, school is where they get their meals, motivations, and the feeling of being loved and accepted. Sophomore student Jazmin G shares, “I’m looking forward to the fact that maybe school can give me the slightest feeling of normal again.”
Changes for individual Kenwood programs and events are still pending. Events liked National Honor Society inductions, senior farewells, graduations, and proms have yet to be decided on in terms of how those things could potentially occur. There’s hope for the seniors though. Mr. Powell shares, “BCPS is looking to explore all options for seniors to conduct graduation whether that’s at Towson University or potentially here, on our beloved Kenwood campus. We are still waiting some additional guidance in terms of what those items will look like, but we all remain very hopeful for some form of in-person graduation.”
With all the challenges and changes coming with hybrid learning, there are still goals for success. According to Mr. Powell, “We are making sure students remain as competitive as possible, upon graduation or upon moving from one grade level to the next. Our staff is working very hard and doing wonderful job to ensure that all of our students have the appropriate skills they need in order to make the best decisions in their college and career choices. One other main goal is to really capitalize on the opportunity to reconnect with our students. For many of us, it’s been a year since we’ve had the chance to see each other in person. So a main goal is to just be able to reconnect and for all of us to work together to adapt to our ‘new normal’ procedures and routines for what classrooms will look like, transitioning in the hallways, to what it looks like in the cafeteria or lunch time, and all these things will be new to all of us. But the goal is for all of us to work together, communicate, and support one another. It is one of the great things that our Kenwood team always does well.”
Some students who are still uncertain about returning to the building at some point this school year are wondering if it’s the right decision at this time. As Mr. Powell points out, every situation has pros and cons. He shares, “We’ve established routines and procedures in order to be safe to take care of ourselves and each other. Through hybrid learning students will be getting the support they need in person.” He always reminds his students and staff to “Expect more, strive for more, and rise above,” and hybrid learning is a time to do that.
Virtual learning is not built for everyone, and those that have tried for a year are looking forward to the opportunity to return to their classes in person. Students are hopeful they’ll feel re-energized and motivated for school. As one student excited to return said, “I’m hopeful I’ll stay more motivated throughout the day.”
Be sure to check out this video and the information on our school website titled “Kenwood High School Hybrid Learning Guidelines and Information” to see the specifics on hybrid learning for anyone with questions. Kenwood is looking forward to returning to their beloved campus this month.