September Centerfold: COVID-19 Update

In the span of less than a week, Americans had their worlds turned upside down.  Stores were forced to close, a bare face became a sight of the past, we couldn’t hug, shake hands, high five, or even stand within six feet of each other.  Most thought this would only last a week, which turned into two weeks, then a month, then six, and now, eighteen.  Covid-19 has had a lasting impact on everyone since Friday, March 13, 2020, when almost every part of America was forced to close, including Schreiber. 

Our school shifted quickly to an online model to finish out 2020, but it was far from perfect.  The plan changed almost on a weekly basis, as students and teachers learned how to effectively use Google Classroom, Zoom, and every other online program that allowed us to have something resembling school at home.  The grading system, which hadn’t changed in years, was adapted to make sure nobody’s grades were hurt by the near-semester at home.  We ended the year extremely awkwardly with a drive-up graduation for seniors, hoping for a better, and maybe even normal, 2020-21 school year.

Normalcy wasn’t a realistic option as September approached.  The Port Washington district had to adopt a hybrid method for all students in middle and high schools, masks were required, desks were 6 feet apart, and some would choose to be fully remote.  Plans were changing constantly, even before the school year started, when the first day was pushed back to allow teachers to adjust to the new rules of distance learning. 

The changes didn’t stop as the year progressed.  School was shut down multiple times due to students testing positive for Covid-19, desk shields were installed, then quickly removed, extra help and clubs were only allowed virtually, sports were pushed back, and had many additional rules.  By the end of the year, all students were able to be in-person on the same day, almost a reward for braving the most tumultuous year in Schreiber’s history.   

School began this past September with all of us here, and masked.  Even though we think we have our entire plan figured out for the year, changes are bound to happen again before June.


Not only is virtual learning annoying, but it is actually much worse for students than a traditional classroom.  Learning on a computer screen and sitting in the same seat for seven hours a day is uncomfortable, boring, and distracting.  With these negatives combined, it makes it much more difficult for students to focus or retain information.  According to CNBC, “More than half of public school K-12 teachers said the pandemic resulted in a “significant” learning loss for students, both academically and in their social-emotional progress, according to a report”.  Experts explain that the main reasons against virtual learning are the same as those for having a home office in your bedroom: it confuses your brain and leads you to be tired while working and occupy your mind while you’re trying to sleep. 

Even our polls among Schreiber students show how they feel they have been impacted.  When asked if they felt that their academic performance was impacted in the last two years of school due to ‘Pandemic Changes’, 60% of students said yes.  In addition, 56% of students reported a decline in their study habits since coming back to school full time.  If students do not think that they are getting a good education, they probably are not. 


Virtually all schools across the country adopted a hybrid or fully remote learning format last year, which affected how students took tests and studied for them.  Schreiber’s hybrid method often meant students would learn test materials at home and be tested in schools.  When students had to test at home, teachers would try to mediate cheating on tests.  However, there was no clear policy on testing from our schools last year, which meant some students would be taking the same tests half in school and half at home.  Anytime a student took a test at home, they most likely had an advantage and did not need to study as much as someone taking the test in school.  This created a divide in classes between who knew the material and who didn’t.  It additionally allowed fully remote students the opportunity to not study for exams and fall behind and lose study skills.  Even with some at-home advantages, students still did poorly on tests as they did not learn or study enough.

 However, when one had to study for a test it was not an easy task.  Students who were stuck at home had to deal with many family members who were remote.  This created difficult distractions while studying on top of the distractions students already deal with from phones and screens.  With the combination of the hybrid learning format and distractions, many students have lost their ability to study and concentrate for long periods on test materials. 

Many feel that hybrid or remote models worked for some students and were detrimental to others.  The pandemic showed that the gap between high and low achieving students increased and much of that comes down to the ability of students to study and perform well on tests.  Research conducted by the Brookings Institute indicated three other effects of remote learning on hybrid students.  First, students may be substantially behind in subject courses, especially math.  Second, students are more likely to have variability in academic skills and course work.  And lastly, the amount of information students retained from the previous year might be less.  Therefore the post-summer review might take more time and effort. 

Though the full effects of the pandemic on student academics cannot be determined entirely, it is clear that the remote learning environment has changed the way certain students can study and retain information. 


Teachers, like students, are another group that have been deeply impacted by COVID-19.  After recovering from a year of hybrid learning, technological innovations, and virus outbreaks, many are relieved to be fully in-person during the 2021-2022 school year.  As comforting as it is to be back to school, many teachers are concerned with the gap in students’ education.  Through last year’s virtual learning, students were distracted from learning at home that knowledge became a second priority to adapting.

Last year was difficult for teachers: many who preferred traditional paper methods were forced to adjust to Google Classroom.  Others who previously learned about their students through body language had to stare at a digital circle with their initials on it.  Lastly, those who crave the adrenaline of a full classroom settled with half-empty seats surrounded by plastic borders.

“Teachers were impacted in a variety of different ways, but mostly many had to learn a completely new way to teach, and one that they had very little experience with previously.  Teachers also had to get used to teaching to half-filled classrooms which led to a lack of energy overall in many classes.  The style change was probably the most difficult for me.  I tend to be a more visual teacher (facial expressions and body language) and that rarely comes across in a digital environment,” said social studies teacher Mr. Muhlbauer.

Especially for more traditional teachers, Google Classroom was a dramatic change.  Although some appreciate the return to normalcy with paper this year thus far, others are incorporating more efficient technology into their teaching during the 2021-2022 school year.

“I had to learn so many new things.  It’s always beneficial to reflect upon previous teaching methods and implement post-pandemic technology,” said Latin teacher Ms. Griffin.

Overall, the vast majority of teachers are happy to have full capacity in their classrooms once again; this is the beginning of a return to normalcy.


The Coronavirus has presented unorthodox problems that have ravaged over civilians across the globe.  Social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent sanitary measures were widespread at the core of the pandemic.  Although these measures were necessary to “flatten the curve”, they took a toll on so many people.  Not being able to hug a friend or sit around a table with friends was challenging for so many.  Winter months, sitting home, alone, scared and waiting.  Despite Covid Rates going down significantly since then, many people are still recovering from these actions.

How can one expect others who had minimal interaction with other humans to suddenly be extremely outgoing?  How can you one expect that someone is going to be extremely confident in school after such a chaotic year?  It is only human nature to have difficulty adapting to change and this school year will be a challenge for so many.  Mental health is something that has been directly affected by the issues of Covid.  Anxiety and depression rates have soared since the start of the pandemic.  Unfortunately, even after the pandemic is over these mental struggles will continue…  Maybe people need to acknowledge that struggles are natural and that the virus affected everybody in different ways.

There will always be a generation who missed out on a big portion of the year 2021.  Especially high school students who desperately need time to develop and mature.  At the end of the day it has just been a setback but there is no reason it should affect our population for an eternity to come.


One of COVID-19’s largest impacts was on social life, given that being within 6 feet of another person could cause such great turmoil.  As colleges and schools began to close, away went nearly everything else outside of an individual’s home.  This meant something different for each age group.  As for elementary and middle schoolers, their playdates took a hold, along with birthday parties and hugs.  According to an article by Frontiers in Psychology,  “parents observed emotional and behavioral changes in their children…  difficulty concentrating (76.6%), boredom (52%), irritability (39%), restlessness (38.8%), nervousness (38%), sense of loneliness (31.3%), uneasiness (30.4%), and worries (30.1%).”  The Jewish middle school students also lost their chance at having a big bat mitzvah celebration with all of their family and friends – something they had been looking forward to for years.  High schoolers could no longer spend the weekends together at concerts, parties, or other exciting events.  Seniors in high school and college couldn’t even spend one last time as an entire grade together at a memorable graduation.  College students and adults were forced to transition their whole lives to being at home with their small immediate family.  Away went weddings, celebrations, and nights out.  Grandparents and the elderly had to be the most cautious of all, and went months––if not a full year and continuing––before seeing their grandchildren, going to the local supermarket, or partaking in any of their pre-COVID social gatherings.  Today, a year and a half post-outbreak, social life has resumed to a large extent.  However, COVID will continue to leave permanent and lasting effects on the entire population.


Unsurprisingly, students have been itching to return to extracurricular activities after over a year of nonexistent or heavily regulated clubs and sports.  Schreiber sports teams have seen regular numbers at tryouts, practices, and spectators at games.  From the return of Friday Night Lights to Pride In Port cheerleading, Schreiber sports are back in full swing.

Even better, school clubs have seen a surge of members, possibly those who felt the monotony of everyday life without in-person extracurriculars last year.  Those of us on the Schreiber Times staff who are seniors were amazed to see turnouts at our monthly Sections meeting that we had not witnessed since we were freshmen.  Students seem more eager than ever to become a part of the Schreiber community in all its forms, especially clubs and sports.