McNick just wrapped up the end of the first quarter and in such a time of uncertainty and question due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was not very clear just a few short months ago whether there would even be an opportunity to be in school. School — something that has been the normal for as long as we could think, has become something that is anything but normal. Many weren’t sure exactly how the first quarter would go, and even if we’d make it to the second quarter, but here we are with the first quarter report cards in our inboxes, and teachers and students already in week two of second quarter.
“I think given the circumstances and the hand we were dealt; things went pretty well. We all understand that this is a real trial for the students – students would all like [a] normal high school [experience], and that would be wonderful, but I think people have really kept their chins up. The morale has been good and that’s really a credit to the good work [from] student council, faculty and staff, who have really been trying to set that tone,” Principal Dave Mueller said.
Mueller added that planning for the 2020-2021 school year started early last summer and many worked behind the scenes to make this as safe and successful of a year as it possibly could for students and faculty, especially the decision to return included all students being in school full class days five days a week.
“Mrs. Blatt, our school nurse, who has handled the contact tracing, takes her job incredibly seriously and does a great job with it, without overacting. That’s a tough line to walk,” said Director of Curriculum Dan Rosenbaum. Mueller added that other key planners included Director of Technology Andy Ey, Fine Arts teacher and department chair Mel Gaskins, Student Moderator Mike Orlando, Theology teacher and Director of Campus Ministry Jeff Hutchinson-Smyth, and Social Studies teacher Todd Naumann.
Although many want to know how many COVID cases will be too many to force a shutdown, there isn’t a set number the administration has determined. “That’s a really hard thing to answer because we really take direction from the Cincinnati Health Department; they would be the ones to tell us, based either [on] what’s going on in the community, or the rate of increase we see in the school, or both,” Mueller said. He added that the safety of everyone’s health is the number one priority.
With Covid-19, comes all sorts of new rules and regulations everyone in the building must follow in order to stay in school. “It’s getting adapted to it; it’s a very different experience than we’ve had in the past. The classrooms are all spread out, and it just has made things very weird. There are some good things about having the teacher in the other room and also some bad things. Teachers teaching online is just different from what I’ve always been used to,” sophomore Adam Carville said.
Sophomore Carly Weidenbacher also thought there were some rough patches, as expected, along the way through the first quarter. “I think the first quarter everybody was kind of feeling out how things were going to work. I think we did an okay job with adapting right away but it’s still kind of challenging to stay socially distanced because we want to see our friends in the hallway and especially outside. It’s hard to keep the mask on.”
“I think just because the class change happens so quickly and even if you walk with somebody all the way to your next class, the Health Department is looking for 15 minutes [of direct contact] with you socially distanced. It’s just impossible to be six feet away from each other during class change, but kids seem to be getting to their classes, the one-way hallways are helping out on spreading out as much as we possibly can,” Rosenbaum said. In a time of such uncertainty, most everyone said they are blessed to be able to get back in the building again, when a few months ago it didn’t seem plausible. Though the work is nowhere close to being done, getting the first quarter was a big first step to having a successful year.
Juniors Cameron Cain and Cole Fithen complete classwork socially distanced and masked up. “It hasn’t been easy but we are doing a pretty good job. We made it through the first quarter, and I wasn’t sure at the beginning of the year if we would,” sophomore Adam Carville said.