St. Edward’s Successful Start: “Side By Side”


The new school sign welcomes all students and community members to a new school year!

Sam Richardson '22, Edsman Staffer

The Saint Edward High School 2020-2021 feels like it began yesterday, but it’s already been almost two weeks since students came into the Saint Edward halls for the first official day of school in almost six months. Personally, I have never missed the school more than I have over these six months. 

I have been able to see the friends and faculty who I have not been able to interact with personally for a considerable amount of time, and many co-curricular activities have opened up with the start of the school year, including the Edsman Newspaper. Although learning online certainly is not a bad alternative to in-person learning, learning exclusively through Google Hangouts and other online programs is certainly inferior to the teacher-student interaction that is present in the classroom environment. Before the COVID-19, I certainly took this relationship for granted, but now it is something I appreciate far more than I had before. 

However, although these relationships have been rekindled, this school year looks far different from any other school year in the history of Saint Edward. One can see one of these major changes as they get out of their car on any school morning, in which they see both the new Palisin Commons, and students walking into school with masks covering their faces. Construction of the commons began in 2019, and the conclusion of this construction project has been long-awaited by many members of the Saint Edward Community. This year, one can spend time both before and after school in this new Commons Area, and it’s been a large change to how many students spend their free time. More about this project will be covered in another Edsman article. In addition to the commons, every student is required to wear a mask over their nose and mouth at all times while on campus, even when one is in the parking lot, with the only exception being at lunch, where students are sufficiently socially distanced and oftentimes separated by shields. After wearing a mask throughout the length of the pandemic and through the first week and a half of the school year, both I and many fellow Edsmen have gotten used to this change in the school environment. While to many these masks seemed like a daunting requirement for in-person learning, it has not turned out to be as much of an inconvenience as it was imagined to be. However, communication is affected by these masks, and oftentimes both teachers and students have to speak louder and enunciate more clearly in order to speak through these masks, but this is obviously a necessary challenge if Saint Edward desires to accommodate the Saint Edward community at school. 

Not only is the appearance of students at school different, but the layout and even location of many classes have also changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The desks in many classrooms have been adjusted so that students can sit as close as possible to six feet away from one another. In many classrooms, this had forced many teachers to improvise. Teachers like Mrs. Fairfield and Mr. VanWhy, who rely on collaboration and the sharing of ideas between small groups of students seated in clusters of seats, have had to evolve greatly. Another noteworthy case of adaptation by teachers has been within the science department, where labs are vital to the learning process. To adapt, teachers have been doing individual labs, with each student being able to have their own work station, and some labs have been entirely moved online. However, as I have experienced with Mrs. Fairfield, it is still possible to share ideas among a small group of students, and other students and I have appreciated this creativity by the Saint Edward faculty during this time. In some cases, entire classrooms have had to be moved. For example, IB Latin and AP English have been moved to the Lowe Innovation Center, where there is ample space to accommodate students under the current CDC guidelines.

Lunch and the community period have been another major part of the Saint Edward school lifestyle throughout the past few years, and this is another practice that has had to be modified due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the late start of this school year, each day consists of 6 classes instead of the 5 last year, and lunch has been shortened to 35 minutes to accommodate this change. During the lunch period, students must remain with their advisory groups, but this practice will hopefully be changed when Saint Edward exits Phase 1 of the Return to Learning Process. 

Cocurriculurs, which used to be held during Community Period, have now been moved to before and after school. The resumption of these co-curricular activities, including the Edsman Newspaper, has let many students return to their passion that they had been separated from for over six months in most cases. Like classes, these clubs adhere to the social distancing standards that are under effect throughout the entirety of the campus. Many clubs now compete online, such as Model UN, who has their first conference fully online on November 10, and it will be interesting to see how these activities adapt to the changing times, and the Edsman will certainly cover these changes. 

Lastly, it is important to address those choosing to learn online during Phase 1 of the Return to Learning Plan. This school year, students have the opportunity to utilize the new streaming technology put into every classroom in order to enjoy a similar learning experience to in-person students without the same risk that comes with. Through my experience in these first eight days, teachers have done very well adjusting to this new variable, and these students are being included as much as possible in daily lessons. Going forward, this online learning resource will become ever more important, as students exposed to COVID-19 are forced to undergo a 14-day quarantine. Saint Edward High School is glad to finally welcome students back, and the Saint Edward Community is excited to see what the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year has in store.