New School Year, New Normal


Sophie T and Zoura C. 

Fayette County schools are reopening for the beginning of the school year on August 17th when students and teachers of J. C. Booth Middle School will have to change their past routines to meet the new protocols with virtual school, hybrid models, and many other revisions to the learning environment. 

“The place we call school has been significantly altered. Much of our practice is and will continue to be radically transformed because of the steps we’ve got to take… Both our personal experience, and our aspirations for our children, they’re going to have to be recalculated,” Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow said. With the start of this new school year, expectations are going to be completely different from those of any other year. The way students learn will be subject to constant change, brick, and mortar, virtual, or hybrid, but education will always prevail. 

The 2020-2021 school year is not going to be a walk in the park. Never before has the Fayette county school system been forced to teach students in such a new and different way. On June 21, 2020, at the work session Board Meeting, Dr. Barrow said, “It was tough closing out [of] school. It’s going to be tougher starting the beginning of the new school year… Coming back in and the fall, everything is going to shift, because we’ll have new students, we’ll have new criteria, we’ll have new protocols.”  There is no instruction manual on how a school should operate in a pandemic. The teachers are putting in much effort to ensure that the education of students is excellent, and cooperation and flexibility is necessary. 

“I think our administrators have taken many precautions to make it a safe place for students and teachers and staff. I plan to follow the three W’s: wear a mask, wash my hands, and watch my distance, and I think everyone else will do the same,” Ms. Post, the J.C. Booth chorus teacher said.

Only 6th-grade students met with their teachers face to face. It was limited to one parent with each student.

All the new regulations and rules that the Board of Education has imposed are there for a reason. No one wants to spread COVID-19, especially to those who are vulnerable.

The new school year will be unpredictable, and not everyone will be fully satisfied by decisions made. The current teaching plan will depend on the amount of COVID-19 cases in the county and other variables,  everybody, including teachers, may have a difficult time adjusting. Despite this, the J.C. Booth community needs to trust the Board to make decisions that are best for everyone. Mr. Thompson, former Study Skills and current 6th-grade Social Studies teacher said, “I think it’s important to…[be] upfront and honest and if it looks like it’s a situation that is unhealthy for people, then we have to have the courage to then just make the call, even though half the people won’t like it, and half the people will.”

With the new school year, teachers and students are also using new programs, like Schoology. This Learning Management System replaces Backboard. Teachers have been learning to use it all through the summer. This new program could help alleviate some stress of learning virtually. “I’m kind of excited about…starting in yellow, so I can use that time in the classroom to train students on these new programs, and so we can have a lot more diversity in what we get to do,” Mrs. Williams, former 7th-grade ELA teacher and current 7th-grade science teacher said. 

“We’re learning things that maybe we wouldn’t have stretched ourselves to learn in the past, and some of us, students included, are getting good at stuff that maybe…we wouldn’t have even tried in the past,” Mr. Thompson said. The Fayette County school system was slowly becoming more and more digital, though full-time virtual school was never an option before. The pandemic has forced Fayette County to change the way students are learning. 

Despite the obstacles of the upcoming year, members of the Booth community are determined to make the best of the current situation. “I think we will demonstrate that we are a strong, smart, resourceful, creative community, who will succeed in teaching and learning, no matter what school looks like. I think that the lasting effect is going to be that we rose above this challenge, and still succeeded anyway,” Ms. Post said. Warriors, make this a great next year!