Although Covid-19 has caused some strain on many schools, Archmere defied the odds and welcomed all students back onto campus with regular hours. This year’s schedule involved the efforts of Mr. Tim Dougherty, Director of Academics; Mr. John Jordan, former principal; Dr. Michael Marinelli, Headmaster; and Mrs. Katie Eisller Thiel, current Principal. They brainstormed, released surveys, and revised the schedule time and time again so it can accommodate the safety and well-being of students and faculty.
After first hearing about the schedule over the mandatory webinar held on August 27, many students and parents were confused. It was brand new and completely different from the schedule last year. However, Mme Thiel, Mr. Dougherty, and Mr. Campion quickly answered questions through webinars, pamphlets, and newsletters.
With a new principal comes new ideas and focuses. Mme Thiel said, “A lot of students are saying they’re going home with a lot less homework which I’m thrilled about because that’s always something I’ve been a bit concerned about when it comes to workload and mental health.”
In the morning, students and faculty take precautions with temperature checks as well as answering a questionnaire about COVID symptoms; if they’re clear they’re able to go onto campus. The questionnaire is from Magnus, Madame Thiel said, “You always use Magnus to submit forms for physicals, but Magnus developed this app in the wake of Covid-19, essentially to give way for families who already had the Magnus connection to simply start doing the screening for free.”
If a student seems sick and needs to quarantine, they’re able to zoom into classes without missing a beat. Sometimes the wifi is poor or people are confused, but the longer we’ve stayed in school the better and smoother everything has become.
For students, classes have become shorter with a lot more work outside of class-time. There’s around a 90 minute period; students are in class for half, while the other half they’re doing what’s called “async work.” This is either written work or a video a teacher has assigned to be completed or watched, respectively.
The new schedule provides students with more free time to work or de-stress, furthering their time management skills; it’s similar to college, what Archmere prepares students for the most. Brian Carbajal, a senior, stated, “It definitely gets me exposed to a more college-like schedule and allows me to really become more responsible with my time.”
Initially, Archmere considered working on a half-day schedule where underclassmen would come in for the first half of the day and upperclassmen would come in for the second half of the day, however, Mr. Dougherty stated, “We realized this was going to be a major problem with the buses, with other transportation, parents drive their kids to school, plus how do you split the school upper class…we have classes that switch grades.”
One plus when it comes to the issue of social distancing is Archmere’s large campus, which provides various buildings and dozens upon dozens of classrooms. Archmere also has a huge outdoor area, perfect when the weather permits so students can go outside and take their masks off when distanced.
Mr. Campion installing the new technology on Archmere’s Campus (also seen on Georgetown University’s campus) is another bonus in Archmere’s new plan. In Mr. Burdziak’s room, a camera and a microphone both hang from the wall and ceiling, helping to create a more in-depth experience for students zooming in. This technology will soon be accessible in most classrooms throughout the campus.
If we do end up going virtual full time, Archmere’s administration indicates that there will be a smooth transition when it comes to classes. We all have zoom, we have teachers who have experience with zoom, and Mr. Dougherty commented, “Mr. Hartman told me last week if we go virtual, we’re ready. We have a lot of online lab material.” The schedule would “virtually” stay the same, and teachers have prepared their syllabi for the worst-case scenario.
Archmere’s new schedule and planning accommodate Covid-19 guidelines, students, faculty and teachers, classes, mental health, college preparation, and so much more. We’d like to thank Mr. Dougherty, Mr. Jordan, Dr. Marinelli, and Madame Thiel for putting together a whole new life at Archmere in such a short amount of time.