While some schools are 100% virtual due to COVID, Gilmour started in-person classes with evident success. For the first three weeks, the community has engaged in a new normal of daily instruction with safety requirements: mask-wearing, hand washing/sanitizing, temperature checks, social distancing, and maintaining pathways.
Gilmour’s hybrid model has some classes with rosters split into two groups. On Day 1, a group of 10 or so students are in person with the teacher in the classroom while another group of 10 or so is virtual via Zoom from a Virtual Learning Zone (VLZ) or from home. Returning to school, students needed to adjust accordingly to all the new COVID standards.
Sophie Kless (‘21) said, “The hardest adjustment for me is not having class with friends. Social distancing from them, especially during my senior year, is hard. I want to spend time with everyone before we leave this spring.”
Kless said she feels safe but sometimes uncomfortable when “we have to sit with dividers in between us during study hall and lunch.” The mask-wearing is Kless’ least-liked protocol “because it gets hard to breathe after keeping it on for hours.” For pros and cons, Kless said, “We are protected from COVID at school, and we still are able to come into school and see some people as opposed to just sitting at home doing online school. Cons are not having class every day (being virtual every other day). Walking outside due to the one-way hallways will be more difficult when the weather isn’t so nice. It could be pouring rain or snowing.”
Tommy McCrone (‘23) said in his opinion the best thing Gilmour has done to ensure safety is “the routes they have made in the hallways. These pathways have a big impact because they keep students from congregating in the hallways. Previously, we would all hang out in the hallways and talk in between classes which would be an issue now because the groups in the hallways could increase COVID risks.”
McCrone also said the biggest impact that the new rules have on him is that “it takes me longer to get to my classes, and since lunch is really quick, I sometimes don’t have enough time to get more food and be on time for class.” McCrone insisted, “We have done a great job of keeping students within the same groups so far. If we keep doing our part, the faster we can get back to normal and hopefully get privileges back, like Community Block. We are stopping the spread of COVID within our school and keeping others safe. However, it is difficult to remember all the rules. We may slip up on some of the rules because it is a hard adjustment, but with the help of our classmates and faculty, we have been pointed in the right direction.”
Mr. David Pfundstein, Dean of Student Life & Leadership, explained that COVID decisions were made by “many task forces working together to make the best game plan to restart school led by Ms. Kenny, Ms. Edmondson, and Ms. Popp.” Mr. Pfundstein said mask breaks are not possible because “the ultimate goal is to stay in school and to keep everyone safe.” He said that it is great “to be back on campus as there are many schools still online. It is also important for us socially and emotionally to interact with each other safely.”
Ms. Rhonda Rickelman, Director of Auxiliary Programming, said she thinks all COVID protocols “will not change this year, unless there is a vaccination that is more than 70% effective for the population. But 99% needs to be vaccinated to go back to normal. Personally, I don’t see it going back to normal this year.”
Ms. Rickleman added, “Emotional and social health is important, so it is good for the community to be together again. March, April, and May were very lonely for a lot of people, so it is good to be back. But a lot of the fun things like homecoming will not happen, so we need to be creative.”