American is already beginning the reintroduce in person learning
With the creation of the vaccine, American has already begun in person learning for select students. This has taken the form of “learning pods,” created by the administration in order to simulate a motivating college environment for students to work in. The pods started on March 11th when staff and counselors worked together to select 10 students from grades 11 through 12 that they thought would benefit from participating in learning pods. Ten students from different grade levels were to be chosen next week, ten more the week after that, and the week after that. Students were chosen based on a variety of variables including academic and personal history. Though participation is recommended, it is not mandatory.
The pods take place on Thursdays and Fridays, on the four corners of the school, with the first taking place in the new buildings. During pods, students get their own desks separate from others, and attend their normal zoom classes while in the classroom. Breakfast and lunch is provided to students. A number of sanitary measures are taken as well in order to keep staff and students safe– students receive personalized chromebooks, desks and materials, which are sanitized daily. Bathrooms are cleaned by the hour, and sharing things is not allowed to prevent cross contamination. In addition, personal belongings are limited and students/staff are required to wear masks at all times.
The idea of learning pods is not only to help students, but also as a way for administration to test how they will bring back in person learning. Feedback from the participants is welcomed, so that staff can make the necessary changes before opening up as a new learning option available to the rest of the student body. Learning pods might point us to the direction of what in person learning will look like when schools may possibly plan to open in April. For example, coming to school will most likely not be mandatory (but recommended), and some students will probably get priority. However it takes place, at least as of April, in person school will not go back to how it was prior to the pandemic.
As of now, students at American should begin thinking about whether they will benefit from going back to school or not. As said by Lisa Diaconis, Vice Principal at American, “What is best for us is not necessarily what we like the most. Attending learning pods isn’t exactly the most enjoyable thing for students especially as compared to being able to do work from home, but in the end it is to help you.” While students may be hesitant to leave home to go back to school, studies have shown that motivation and efficiency increases while being in an academic setting. For example, a study funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council showed that a school environment could increase productivity by up to 16%. Since the pandemic, school districts not just in the Bay Area, but across states, have shown an increase in failing grades. forcing schools to take the necessary actions that may help students get back on track after a year of COVID-19.