As a way to protect ourselves and the people near us from Covid-19, whenever out in public, not doing vigorous activity, people are required to wear masks. These masks have been coupled with increased sanitation, cleanliness, and social distancing. OHS is no stranger to these new behaviors and precautions. All across campus, students and staff must wear a mask, stay distanced from others, and classrooms are to be wiped down at the end of each period. For the most part, these safeguards are basic and simple.
The majority of OHS classes have been able to continue learning like “normal”, but a handful of classes have had to make major adjustments to their structure and activities. The arts and entertainment classes have been most affected by these changes, both in class and regarding off-campus traditions.
“In regards to Covid-19, it has really thrown us off balance. We had to plan the season, we had a really good show and we had amazing drill writers and music picked out. But, when everything started to close down, we were not able to do that,” said Brandon Ngo, junior. “And with those changes, we lost a lot of our opportunities to do traditions, to meet the new freshmen, and to bond together as a band family.”
Choir and band classes have had to take unique and extra precautions, including wearing different masks and limiting their time doing each activity.
“We are all breathing really close to each other, so it is super easy to pass germs around. That is why, like in choir and band, when someone gets sick, everyone gets sick,” said Corinne Kisicki, junior. “We can’t sing for more than 30 minutes without stopping, so we can let the air circulate and get out.”
These changes have brought with them some unique challenges, some of which are difficult to overcome.
“We aren’t clumped together where we can hear each other; we are spread out, so that makes it a little bit more difficult. The spacing makes it hard to hear each other and makes it hard for our voices to blend,” said Paul Krieg, senior.
Traditional masks that can be seen on most students are troublesome for choir students. In turn, they have to wear unique masks.
“We wear our normal masks, but we also have singer’s masks. They come out a few inches in front of the face, so we can actually sing without inhaling our masks,” Krieg said.
Although they are an annoying change to the school year, these alterations are exceedingly necessary. As Covid-19 continues to spread and cases continue to rise, it is ever important that students and staff at OHS respect the safety guidelines. While working out, students in physical education classes do not have to wear masks, this means that the staff will need to be extra vigilant about keeping students distanced and safe.
“We are always worried about student safety, and that is our number one. This just adds to that student safety piece. We still have to get our workouts in, and I think this is what will keep us healthy,” said Melissa Hobson, physical education teacher.
Physical Education classes have had their fair share of challenges, too. Like all other classes, they have to remain distanced, and must wear masks when they are not working out, but they also have to adapt to the two hour block and sharing the locker rooms.
“The lockers are spaced out. They don’t have to wear their masks while exercising, so we will be doing a lot of our activities while outside. Obviously it will be an adjustment, but I do not think it will be very hard to adapt to these changes,” Hobson said. “I think what will affect us is the two hours; I am not going to have them work out for two hours, so I have been incorporating little mini lessons. That has been a big change. I have to be careful about what optics I teach, because I do not want to overlap with what they will do in health next semester.”
This year has been met with a lot of resistance, but administration and students have been able to work around it and make the best of the school year.
“It has been a challenge, adapting to the changes, not being able to have some of the social events as we typically would, not being able to sing as close as we want to each other,” Krieg said. “But overall, we have been able to find solutions to those problems that arise and work around them and figure them out, and find things out to put in place that would ultimately help us in the long run.”
There are definitely many setbacks that come with these new precautions and adjustments, but there are also a lot of positives that remain, even if they can be a little more difficult to find. It is important to be optimistic, and not dwell on the negatives.
“I would definitely say it has made being part of band less enjoyable, but playing my instrument still feels the same. It is just special things, like our traditions, that we can’t do anymore. We can’t bond as easily anymore because of the restrictions. We just can’t have that connection we have had in the last years,” Ngo said. “I just think having a positive attitude on everything really improved morale with everybody, especially during these times where interactions with other people are limited.”
For most students, being back at school at all is enough to keep them smiling. Online school does not work well for many, and definitely makes specific classes extremely difficult to run.
“We were not able to sing together on Zoom, so most of these kids had not sung with other people for at least six months. So just that excitement of getting to sing with other people and hear other people’s voices again, was better than complaining about having to wear a mask or being spaced out. So overall, it is going pretty well, and everyone is happy to be back at school,” Kisicki said.