As the COVID-19 improved, local school corporations loosened their rules in 2021/22. Each county in Angola handled COVID differently. As policies, distance, and lost activities improve, so have the pupils.
In all schools, grades, enthusiasm, and attendance have improved.
“I think students were glad to come back. Many said they liked being back since they can seek help. They couldn’t ask the instructor for help with COVID, or they would but only online.” Angola High School administrator, Travis Heavin said students didn’t always get a fast answer and still had questions.
Students can develop interpersonal skills, get direct support, work with people they may not know at home, and gain a well-rounded education at school. COVID-19 hampered many kids’ schoolwork, but schools are striving to help them.
“Last year, I worked with local health authorities, our school board, our superintendent, including our community to once again put the best plan in place so children could have some normality while returning with limitations. It boosted morale and spread good vibes. We want all students to return to in-person learning, not some in virtual.” Principal Marcus Wagner of Dekalb High School remarked, “You bring back everyone and their friend groups reunite.”
As COVID limitations eased, schools attempted to restore routine. Pep rallies, assemblies, and extra-curriculars were cut. Kathy Longenbaugh the principal at East Noble resumed the activities when it was safe.
“Last Friday of school year, we hold a barbeque on the football field. Outside lunch, a live band, and football field activities.” Longenbaugh said the initial assembly was in April and the picnic was in May. “Our senior brunch was in the cafeteria, so all the students could sit together. It was amazing to perform these activities for kids again without worrying about spacing.”
COVID’s limits impacted the school lunchroom. Individual lunches increased the lunch staff’s responsibility. Buffets or salad bars also weren’t permitted. Many schools would have to limit or adjust their menus. Many schools also lost the social component of lunch.
“As we have four primary lines, last year’s meal was personalised. We serve pupils four to six meals. Box lunches, parfaits, quick grab items, and pretzels are served daily. Kids have 10+ entrée selections. I told our cafeteria workers to keep such alternatives available. Our cafeteria crew pre-packaged everything because we couldn’t serve normally. Every veggie, fruit has its own container. We were told to put youngsters on one end of the table,” said Wagner. “With 1,100 youngsters, you must be imaginative. We purchased extra tables and sat everyone one way. Because of contact tracking, we segmented the cafeteria and assigned courses and teachers by zone. This year it went right back to a heavy-to-normal lunch, which the kids like. Kids liked choosing where to sit.”
Normal lunches return
Angolan pupils were happier once lunch restrictions were eased. They witnessed few problems and pupils were more sociable.
“We didn’t have any lunchtime troubles since we were thrilled to be together. Students enjoyed the break. Last two weeks we were allowed to go outside, and many youngsters appreciated it, said Heavin. “Supervising lunches was pleasant since kids talked normally. Back to normal meant usual meals. Before COVID, youngsters ate while sitting like in prison. They separated. Few people spoke.”
COVID eliminated lunch and the social side of lessons and group work.
Before COVID, we had a desk that could be assembled in 30 ways for variable sitting.” Longenbaugh says. “They can construct a circle, a pod, or a snake.” “How the instructor organizes their classroom depends on what they’re doing, but we don’t have students sit in rows. Teachers and students found it difficult to return to rows.
Even when normalcy returned, COVID limitations remained. Virtual learning would have to adapt swiftly to homeschooling. Schools have used this to provide students choices when unwell, away from home, or otherwise unable to attend in-person sessions.
“I doubt we’ll ever be normal. More youngsters are taking online credit recovery programs, which is fantastic.
COVID has led to more dual credit options through TrineOnline, Trine University’s online learning program.
“Our aim is to get more kids for the dual credit, greater number of kids in our program, and more TrineOnline dual credit program. We’ll see more students at our institution taking dual credit programs through TrineOnline, so we can monitor them better.”
Online learning has several obstacles, even with today’s technology. Many schools saw grades drop because kids didn’t get direct teaching during COVID.
“We check the data constantly, and you can see where there was a huge COVID epidemic and a high number of students would have to quarantine so their grades dropped,” said Logenbaugh. “February through May was the third trimester. We got our best marks in three years because there wasn’t any COVID or quarantine.”