The 2020-2021 school year has brought lots of changes, like a brand-new building, a new library, and new teachers, but the biggest change of all is Covid-19.
Pinellas County has implemented a variety of procedures to slow the spread of the virus. From not being able to use water fountains to wearing masks all day and cleaning after every class, school is different.
“There’s a lot of things we have to do extra,” explained plant operations team member Robert Tinch. Plant operations staff are in charge of maintaining the cleanliness of Melrose. According to Tinch, they pay extra special attention to high traffic touch areas like the water bottle refill station and door handles.
Another difference is the way scholars interact with each other. “School was much more fun before,” said third-grade scholar Jacquez Gibbs. The six-foot rule is another major change that limits class sizes and affects the way scholars spend their lunch. Gone are the days of kids crowding around a lunch table, laughing and talking. “This year lunch is quieter,” said third-grade scholar Makayla Hines.
For some scholars, lunch is still at home. While many students have returned to physical school, there are still some who have remained online. Teachers on all grade levels are teaching simultaneously, which means they have to teach face-to-face and online at the same time.
Online or simultaneous teaching isn’t the only change for teachers. Teachers are adapting to a variety of challenges.
“They have asked that we not do shared materials.” said fifth-grade science teacher Jeremy Nash. This makes experiments difficult. “I can’t do science experiments unless I have enough materials for each scholar to have their own,” explained Nash. “Everyone’s got their row and kind of has their island.” According to Nash, the most significant change to class is how students work. “There’s less partner work, that’s probably the biggest change.”
While COVID-19 may be challenging, Principal Jones said she is confident in the Melrose community. “COVID will not make Melrose weak, it will only make us stronger in teaching and learning and learning and teaching.”