Luke Cardinale

During one of the world’s largest pandemics, a new virus has been spreading all over the world disrupting and altering everyday life for over a year now. It is a coronavirus known as COVID, but you probably already know that, we’re living in it! Here in Nassau County, we got 15,713 cases on January 5, 2021 alone, and the numbers are constantly changing.

Here at North Shore Middle School, it is changing the way we would normally go to school, and for me and my classmates, it is nothing like a normal year with many changes. Being a 6th grader, I never got the regular middle school experience, which makes this article different from a 7th or 8th grader who knows what middle school here is actually like. We stay in the same room the whole period at our desks and wait for the different teachers to come to us; it is crazy! Here is what a “regular day” for us at NSMS is now in my class in 6th grade.

Teachers and students are all driving up to North Shore Middle School. The busses, parents or family members with their kids in their car, and teachers all drive up to the upper or lower circles, directed by the security staff who, like everyone else now have to, wear masks (it is so weird when people take off their masks and I see what they actually look like). Kids who walk or bike to school also pull up at NSMS. Before you go in, located near the upper and lower circles, you need to walk to a temperature checker, situated on a post, which there are several spread across the sidewalk where cars pull up. You have to put your wrist or forehead up to the checker (shown in image); if you get a clear normal temperature announced, and shown on the screen then you are allowed to go in. If not, you will have to try again. Usually, it takes a few times and says retest because it often doesn’t work (many are broken from being used so much and don’t even work anymore).

In addition to this, to prevent going to school while being sick, your parents must fill out and submit a Corona Virus Attestation done as a Google Form, which asks questions about your temperature. We need to put on and wear our face mask throughout the entire day to protect ourselves from catching COVID, but sometimes, usually when it is warm weather, our teachers might take us outside for the period. Then if we are spread out, we can take a mask break (break to take off your mask). We used to take breaks inside too at the beginning of the year, but it was too dangerous, so the school banned indoor mask breaks. Most of the classrooms have doors in which students can enter their classroom directly from which in normal years where students would travel from room to room for each subject would remain closed. Many of the changes, including staying in one classroom and having the teachers come to us, are both to keep less people in separate classes to come into contact with each other inside the building. Some classes, however, like my class, are positioned in a way, in which they do not have doors out. In that case for me, my classmates, and others is assigned one of the entrance/exits to use that is located nearby the room, so you do not have to walk through the whole school to get to your room.

Once you’re in the room, throughout the day many of the classes seem very regular, although I am not sure how school at NSMS is normally. Right before the first period starts, we have E3 Squad, which is where you check in, unpack, do homework that is going to be due soon, read, and talk while students are coming in. It is something unique to NSMS that in a normal year would have been done with only a few kids, but due to COVID, our whole class does it together. E3 Squad is led by a teacher or staff member. After E3 Squad, however it feels like the same period, is 6th Grade Academy which is a new class came up with for this year that is for many different things. We might continue what we were doing in E3 Squad or read and do IXL. The periods are only 30 minutes, so everyday we have all of our subjects, when in a regular year we would have longer periods of varying lengths, but we would not get all our classes everyday. It is good and bad in different ways.

Next, we have math, but other classes would have other subjects. Since kindergarten, we would have a print math textbook we would use to do math work. This year to make it easier to do work at home if we go remote, we do most of our work we would normally do on paper, on our Chromebooks like having a PDF of the math textbooks downloaded to our Chromebooks which we use if we need the textbook (which we usually don’t). In between each period is 5 minutes. Next, we have English class. After English is over we have Wellness class, and many other 6th grade classes have it at the same time as us because we play with other classes. Wellness is one of the new classes that was invented for NSMS this year. It is like gym but is led by all different health and gym teachers. We usually go outside for Wellness, so we can play with other classes depending on the weather. Each class has a different teacher but they all lead the activities together.

Next, we have another new class created for our school due to COVID-19, Academic Support. In every class, a teacher that teaches the class in another period volunteers to be the Academic Support teacher. For example, we have our math teacher for Academic Support. We have a teacher of ours teach this class because they can, just like the name says, support us in academics. They sometimes may teach a lesson from their subject or we can read, do homework, etc. In our class schedule, we have Science next, but like all the periods every single classroom has a slightly different schedule. During a regular year in Science, we would have been doing experiments at our desks, but due to the danger of sharing materials (and not being in the science lab where we have all the right safety materials), we do not do our own experiments this year. Our next subject is language; I take Spanish. Later we have lunch, and then recess. If it is nice outside we go outside to eat lunch on the field because it is the only way we can mix classes safely, though the field is usually very muddy. If it is too cold, we eat in our classroom.

Later we have recess outside on the field (or inside if it is super cold) and it is also very muddy, sometimes more mud than even grass. And now another new subject, Innovation. It is a mix of different classes different for every class. Each quarter of the school year we switch our subject and teacher. Some innovation subjects are engineering, art, robotics, technology, music, etc. After Innovation, we have Social Studies which is the last class of the day. In order to prevent the situation that every class leaves the room at the same time and the hallway is all crowded the school assigned each classroom a dismissal wave to each class. There are 6 dismissal waves. Each time a wave is called, that class walks out of the classroom out of their door and out to go home. You need to bring your Chromebook home because due to COVID most of our assignments for homework are online, and that way if we go remote the next day we will have our device to complete many of our in school assignments and homework from our home.

Yes, COVID is making things more difficult, and it is nothing like a normal school year, but at least our school was able to find a way we could even stay open a full 5 days. Most other schools and school districts around the county, even around the country are doing complete remote or a part of remote and in-person hybrid, which North Shore High School is doing.