By Melina Guth

News Editor

“The Board of Education (BOE) voted to have all virtual schooling/distance learning for all of Q1 and Q2. Thus, we will be returning to the building on February 1, 2021 for the first day of Q3,” Dr. DiPaula writes in an interview via email with The Bear Press. 

Students work from home as the school year kicks off virtually.
Image Source: Government Technology

Taking into account the local infection rate for Covid-19 and other related indicators, the Board of Education will meet on November 19th for the 2020 BOE Meeting to discuss returning to in-person instruction. “At that meeting they will determine if we are returning 100% of students back to school together for Q3, 50% of students at a time (hybrid model), or remaining in a virtual learning model for additional time,” DiPaula continues. 

There is a considerable amount of uncertainty for the future of the 2020-2021 school year moving forward. With that in mind, it is important for the Hammond community to stay informed about Covid-19 precautions and key factors that will affect the plausible return of students and staff to schools across the county. 

Speaking of key factors, Hammond’s long awaited renovations are finally underway, having already drastically altered the Hammond High School that we deserted back in March.

How do bulldozers, hammers, hardhats, and students coexist within one building? Thankfully, renovations will not disturb class time as students re-enter the building. This has been confirmed by Hammond’s principal, who stated, “We have some new temporary walls that prevent students and staff from going into work zones. These walls also prevent construction workers from entering into our school or creating a disruption.” 

Looking at some of the changes in the layout of the building, the temporary Student Services office will be located in the 9th grade wing. Temporary Main and Health offices will be down near the Gymnasium. Even with these changes, students should have no difficulty navigating the building as it undergoes construction. As may be news to many, Principal DiPaula also confirmed a “brand-new 12-classroom portable cottage” being constructed between the 9th grade wing and the football field to make up for the lost classrooms. In short, the renovations will not conflict with much of a standard Hammond school day when students and staff return.

We’re back in school, does that mean Covid-19 is no longer? Unfortunately, no. “The BOE will be laying out reopening requirements over the next month and we will share them with our community,” the Principal shares with The Bear Press. “These requirements are also being influenced by CDC and local HoCo Health Department guidelines. At the high school level, I would expect masks to be a requirement and consistent hand-washing to be encouraged.” Hammond as a community still holds the responsibility of practicing personal safety, as well as protecting those around us and those at higher risk of infection. 

Wear a face covering that covers both your mouth and your nose. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available. Sanitize your hands before you put your mask on, and wear a mask with two or more layers. Some of these safety measures may seem tedious, but they are necessary in helping prevent the spread of the virus.

While working from home on papers, homework, and any other assignments assigned to you by your teachers, keep in mind to take breaks to avoid wearing yourself out. Many students—and teachers—are still adjusting to the virtual learning system. Find a comfortable space, whether that’s in your bedroom, kitchen, or basement, it is important to work in a focused and comfortable environment to learn and function more effectively. Use your resources, email teachers with any concerns, go to the designated tech support sessions, reach out to classmates, or look over modules. 

Through this process, we will demonstrate how we are able to come together as a Hammond community in these times of trial and error, and learn again how to come together safely when we’re together in person.