Remote Learning “Off the Table”
January 21, 2022
As Illinois continues to fight a spike in COVID-19, schools across the state are opting to return to remote learning.
However, Principal Greg Minter told the Prospector that this would not be the case for Prospect.
“[Remote learning] is not on the table,” Minter said.
Going back to remote learning would require a district decision, according to Minter, and would only happen if there were not enough teachers and subs to staff the school.
To many students at Prospect, this statement came as a relief.
“It makes me feel so good,” senior Ben Sahakian said. “I love being able to have personal connections in school, and positively impact those people through those connections.”
According to senior Sam Tsagalis, remote learning was a tough time for many students at Prospect, including himself.
“The lack of in-person connection was driving me crazy,” Tsagalis said. “As we got deeper and deeper into remote learning I felt more lonely. I just missed seeing everyone in the halls.”
But being in-person with a school of 2,100 students during a COVID-19 spike hasn’t come without its own set of challenges.
With Prospect leading the district in Covid cases, which Minter attributes to the school’s size, the nursing staff is left with an overwhelming amount of casework and contact tracing.
“It’s crazy,” Prospect nurse Cheryl Novak said. “There is stuff that I need to get done in my role as a school nurse that has been put on the back burner [due to the amount of cases].”
For each new positive case Novak and other administrators track close contacts through the student’s schedule. Then if any of the close contacts are unvaccinated, they receive an email outlining what the next week will look like.
Regardless, if a student tests positive they are required to quarantine for a minimum of five days, per IDPH guidelines. For some students and student-athletes, potentially missing that time is a disturbing thought.
“It’s definitely a little scary knowing that everything you worked for could just stop because that one piece of the puzzle gets COVID,” senior Michael Maggio said.
Maggio is a part of prospect’s co-ed cheer team, whose competitive season is currently running through February. Last spring, while in hybrid learning, players on the football team decided to go completely remote after a few teammates tested positive. However, this year teams don’t have that option. Zoom has been banned in classrooms, so students do not have the ability to zoom from home.
Novak and Minter say that the best way to avoid COVID is to continue to follow the guidelines of the school and IDPH. Novak is hopeful that this is just a holiday surge as COVID numbers across Illinois have continued to drop since Jan.10.