Photo by Alyssa Cocchiola
View of the newly constructed wing, which houses grades 7-8 and new common area.

by Alyssa Cocchiola, staff writer

OCTOBER 2020 — For students attending Bio-Med Science Academy, Sept. 28 was the first time they physically attended school since last March. In response to safety guidelines and an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the school implemented what is known as a hybrid schedule.

The hybrid schedule separates students in two groups: purple and green. The groups run on a rotation in which one week, the green group goes to school, and the next, the purple group does. On the weeks they aren’t school, students attend virtually.

Each color group is broken up into smaller groups called cohorts. Each cohort consists of about 15 students who all share the same schedule. This way, the number of people students come in contact with is limited. While at school, students are required to wear a mask and keep at least a minimum of three feet distance from their peers. Desks are also cleaned after every class to prevent the spread of the virus.  

After students were given the option to return, many shared their excitement upon their arrival. When being asked about their first week, many students initially felt unsure how things were going to operate due to the safety protocols in place. 

However, students were pleasantly surprised by the welcoming and collaborative environment the school had to offer. “It’s been very fun and very interactive lately, and I think to be honest, we are going to have a lot of fun,” said Natalie Hammerschmidt, a current 9th grader at Bio-Med Science Academy. 

From a teacher standpoint, the cohort system is also appreciated for the most part. When being asked about it, Mrs. Mihalik commended, “The cohort system, I actually really like. Before when they were trying to do hybrid with our original schedules, it was all mixed up and this way I can at least try to make it even.”

Despite the safety protocols, students still feel that they are receiving a good educational experience. When asked about her opinions on the new schedule, Chloe Cook, a current 8th grader, offered some insight on her first week back. “Being here on Monday definitely did feel like the first day back at school, even though we had been in school for like three weeks already,” she said.

When asked about the hybrid schedule, Cook responded,  “I like being back at school. It’s definitely easy to learn that way, and I love the new building. And just like being here; it’s a great environment but I mean I am pretty sad I won’t be here next week. But I understand why and how they are doing it.” 

While students are generally pleased with the in-person weeks, online weeks are a different story. Many students shared their concerns about struggling while completing assignments online. 

Hailey Mills, a 10th grade student, said of her first few weeks at Bio-Med, “They have been good at school, but at home it’s hard to understand what the teachers expect from us and it’s hard to stay focused.”

Despite their concerns with the digital weeks, students at Bio-Med are happy to be back in school, and are enjoying the positive community it brings. By implementing the hybrid schedule and following these safety precautions, people attending school are able to receive a learning experience that is enjoyable, while also staying safe. 

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