Closer to normal: Four days a week of in-person learning


Aum Patel

The return of students to four days of in-person learning means crowded hallways again.

Normal. Something we’ve all been waiting for ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Something that always seemed so far away and distant. It was more something to daydream about between hours of online learning, something to laugh about as facetime replaced hanging out with our friends.

But as of April 19th, 2021, students are able to receive in-person instruction four days a week. Although masks, social distancing, and sanitizing measures are still in place, it feels as though normal just got a little bit closer.

First, four days a week has brought back the familiar buzz of laughter and chatter to the hallways. Students are able to socialize more, bringing back an enjoyable part of a normal school day. “So far, I have been loving four days a week.” said David Palmer, a freshman. “I like going to school for the people, to talk, joke, and hang out with them.”

With more students coming in-person, teachers have noticed the shift in energy as well. Ms. Tzetzis said, “I love the students’ energy. I love seeing them all together and their interactions.”

Everyone overall seems to be grateful that they are back, enjoying the socialization they may have once taken for granted. After so long of being split up by cohort, many students are excited to be reunited with their peers. Ms. Monto said, “I immediately noticed a profound sense of gratitude that students seem to have, being together in the same space.”

In the classroom setting, four days a week of in-person instruction has also allowed for more organic interactions to take place. Part of how we learn and teach comes from human connection, something that seemed to have faded away amidst pandemic learning.

When it comes to facilitating class discussions and building relationships with students, Ms. Monto explained, “While it takes effort on the part of the teacher and the student, it certainly can be done online. But having a sense of continuity in the four day learning format has been wonderfully refreshing.”

And although breakout rooms can do the job just fine, students are finding that collaboration with classmates is much more effective in-person. David Palmer said, “Being able to turn around, talk to someone, and work together has had a positive impact on me.”

As for teaching, conveying information to students in the four day learning format seems to be a much smoother process. As Ms. Tzetzis said, “Even behind the mask, I can get an idea of a student’s reaction and get a better sense of what they understand.”

Teaching has not necessarily gotten easier, as teachers are still creating lesson plans that are applicable for those learning remotely. “For the students online, I still have to make sure I am engaging with them, interacting with them, and touching base to see where they are.” Ms. Tzetzis explained.

But teaching remotely has taught teachers a way to perhaps enhance their curriculum and the way they teach. “I learned a great deal about technology and presenting information digitally.” Ms. Monto said, “While I would not declare that returning in-person instruction has made teaching easier, I have a new skill set to present to my scholars, and that ultimately leads to a stronger learning environment and more rewarding educational experience.”

Despite all of these benefits, it must be acknowledged that coming to school four days a week in-person is another change that students and teachers must adapt to. In a year where everything is uncertain, it speaks to the resilience of everyone that they are able to make the best of whatever situation arises.

“Change, even positive change, is oftentimes uncomfortable and nerve-racking.” said Ms. Monto. “Every student, whether they are joining us from home on the meet, or are now in school four days a week, have impressed me with their respect and fortitude throughout the process.”



Students sit in the classroom social distanced and masked.
Students in classrooms remain socially distanced and masked under the new guidelines. (Aum Patel)