Hybrid Plan Surpasses Two-Month Mark

By Rose Androwich and Addy Geirstorf

     This month marked a crucial milestone for Fenwick faculty and students with two months of successful hybrid attendance under their belt.

     While the new hybrid plan is not without its drawbacks, the plan has proven to be effective in allowing students and faculty to safely enjoy a return Fenwick. This success, however, has been hard-won and has not come without cooperation from students, and a significant amount of work and effort from staff and faculty members.

      School nurses Ms.Monty and Ms.Pape have played a significant role in maintaining the hybrid plan, along with the overall well-being of students and faculty. The nurses explain that they start off their day by looking at the list of everyone who is sick. They then call the parents every day to check in on these students. In addition to this, they have been in communication with the Cook County and Oak Park health departments since March, and they maintain contact daily to review safety standards and guidelines, as these standards are subject to change frequently.

     Ms. Monty and Ms. Pape explain that they must remain vigilant. Describing her motivation behind these efforts, Ms. Pape said, “We care so much about everybody in the school: faculty, staff, and students.”

     Despite all the challenges that come along with maintaining school-wide health, the nurses approve of the hybrid plan, and they are moved by how well the Fenwick community has rallied together. In their eyes, the benefit of the hybrid schedule is that if someone gets sick, they have that extra day to recover. They believe that following the hybrid plan has allowed the Fenwick community to stay connected.

     Meanwhile, most students are grateful to be back, but admit that the hybrid plan is a difficult adjustment. Describing a typical e-learning day, junior Ryann Grasser said, “I wake up, head to swimming practice early in the morning, come home, take a nap and start my work around twelve. I usually end my work around six p.m., including breaks.” Grasser explained that she enjoys the freedom to take breaks throughout her day. Despite this, she explains that e-learning is definitely more challenging, as she frequently feels that she must resort to teaching herself.

     When asked how she felt about e-learning, junior Linden Gierstorf said, “For the most part good, all of my classes are different. I think I’m learning just as much at home as I would in school.” Gierstorf usually spends forty minutes on average for each of her classes and around seven hours for the whole day, including breaks. Gierstorf noted that she has sometimes experienced a significant inrease in the amount of work on e-learning days. “It can be hard to make sure I am doing everything on time,” she said.

     Along with the nurses’ and students’ efforts, teachers have also had to make adjustments to the new schedule. History teacher Ms. Logas explained that, despite her initial concern with the announcement of in-person learning, she feels the strict standards Fenwick has put in place are reassuring. She believes that we are able to remain in school because the Fenwick community has followed scientific findings and obeyed the rules. She is willing to accept discomforts in the classroom such as whirring fans and open windows in order to minimize risk And as she explains, she has adapted to lecturing through a face mask, which she describes as “shouting through [her] mask.” Despite her acceptance of the hybrid plan, still misses having all in-person classes. “I miss the school that never sleeps…. I miss Kairos, and the excitement in the building every fall.”

     While Fenwick took a brief “adaptive pause” for full e-learning from October 28 through November 6 to address a rise in COVID cases, the school continues to remain open for hybrid learning.