North students make the most of lengthy school closure

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North Attleborough Schools will be closed through May 4, as per an order from Gov. Charlie Baker. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

Since March 13, North Attleborough schools have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At that time, it was supposed to be for a week. Then it was April 7. And now, May 4 has been set as the date when schools will reopen, but even that is not set in stone. All athletics have been postponed, and fields and playgrounds are closed to the public.

This has proven a serious disruption to the students and for some, the thing they miss most is seeing their friends. In this article, five North Attleborough High School juniors gave their thoughts on the pandemic and how they’re coping with the situation.

Missing friends and teachers

For Dylan Desrosiers, not seeing his classmates and teachers has been the hardest part. He tries to stay in touch as often as he can, and said teachers have been done the same, some through a Google check-in form.

It’s nice to see that our teachers really care about us—a lot. And that goes both ways,” he said.

Alicia Hawe said that while a break from the work has been nice, there’s a lot she misses that she didn’t expect until it happened. She said she’s doing well and to keep from getting too bored she’s been doing at-home workouts, reading, playing piano, and schoolwork.

I miss spring sport season, and the joy that comes with competing alongside your friends and teammates,” said Hawe.

Angela Oliynyk said she’s glad that students have been provided with the tools to continue their education at home. She, like many others in town, has been practicing social distancing, but maintains connections to classmates and friends through group video chats. She’s enjoyed the abundance of free time, as it’s given her the opportunity to work out and play the guitar.

Along with missing her friends, Niteesh Saravanan said that another concern is the next academic year and the challenges that this closure may create. Many of the classes she was hoping to take came with prerequisites that she is currently enrolled in.

I hope that they give us some more help over the summer to catch up with classes or else we will all fall very far behind,” she said.

Learning continues amidst closure

When Gov. Baker announced that all schools in Massachusetts would be closed through May 4, Jack Callahan said he was surprised, but thought the decision made sense. Desrosiers hopes that news like this will make it clear how serious the Coronavirus is.

Since schools were ordered closed, the administration has made a number of online resources available through the NAPS Extended Learning web site. Lessons are posted for all grade levels, from Pre-K through the 12th grade, as well as English Learners. For the high school students, these include foreign languages, virtual museum tours, and business courses. Oliynyk has enjoyed these and other tools and thinks they’ll be helpful for planning events such as the prom.

Saravanan has been using Khan Academy, the AP YouTube channel, teacher assignments posted on Google Classroom and the NAHS site. Callahan has been been using Google Classroom to continue his physics work and his teacher’s site to do practice problems. He’s also used code.org for his computer science work.

Last year Google Chromebooks were given to high school students, and Desrosiers said this helped continue lessons after the schools were closed. He said some of the activities have been enjoyable, including his trigonometry/pre-calculus class, in which they are working on an Intro to Statistics unit that involves online math tools, graphing calculator technology, and mini-projects to reinforce learning.

On Google Classroom, teachers have been posting daily optional activities to keep our minds in school learning mode,” he said.

Hawe hopes that this experience teaches people not to take things for granted.

I think the long period of time that schools are closed for really highlights the severity of the situation, and will hopefully make people really understand that they need to stay at home as much as possible,” she said.