Making the grade in a pandemic

Admin, student reflect on quarantine’s effects of student achievement


 

by Emma Ovenhouse

 

Superintendent David Hornak meets a student outside of his office to test the close contact for Covid-19. This has become the new normal following the return of students to schools during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With students making their return to school, new precautions have to be taken, including a mandatory ten day quarantine if a student contracts the virus.

“I worry about them. I’m worrying about what they’re doing at home when they’re not in school,” Hornak said.

Hornak and the school district have been challenged by changing protocols and orders coming from many sources. Currently, Holt’s school district is taking directions from the local Ingham County health department.

“As a result of being concerned about kids being out of school, we have started what is called the Test To Stay program,” Hornak said. “A child who is considered a close contact is able to come each morning and test for Covid-19, outside of my office, between 7:30 and 8:15 each morning.”

Through the test to stay program, over 275 individuals have been tested for Covid-19 as of early October and many have been able to return to school after receiving a negative test result instead of participating in a mandatory quarantine.

“We believe that that has saved over 1000 collective school days, which is, in my mind, just amazing,” said Hornak.

However, there has still been a surge in positive Covid-19 cases within Holt’s school district. Someone else who is worried about how students are handling this situation is Holt High School principal Michael Willard.

“I think we all believe and know that students learn best when they’re here,” Willard said. “You can still get into Google Classroom and get with your teacher, but it’s not the same as, like, being here and doing those things.”

Willard said that because the school aims for students to miss fewer than nine days in a whole semester, having to quarantine for COVID-19 and missing as many as ten calendar days could affect a student's achievement in school.

Hornak had a similar opinion.

“For some kids, heading home and doing a homework packet is just what they need, they can handle that. For others, there’s probably going to be a drop in their academic performance because they’re not in front of their teachers,” Hornak said.

Both Hornak and Willard said work assignment and make-up for quarantined students is mostly teacher by teacher with the guidance and support of the school.

“Some teachers can do more things in Google Classroom, some require more things that you may have to pick up. Papers, things like that, you know, so whenever a kid has to quarantine an email goes out to all of the teachers, which includes the parent and the student,” Willard said.

Senior Sergio Rodriguez said that a lot of the responsibility belongs to the individual student, and that teachers can support the student by offering time in a Google Meet or supplying videos of them going through the assignments. He added that a lot of the responsibility falls on the students and their parents to stay on track.

“We have Google Classroom and the parents should send out an email to the teachers saying that their kid has Covid and the teachers aren’t gonna just ignore their emails,” Rodriguez said. “They’re gonna get every single opportunity as all the other kids [who are present], I believe.”


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