Pandemic Transforms BBES Life

By Allison Herrera Montoya and Nancy Martinez Yanez

Each morning at 8:35 a.m., teachers and administrators come out and take students’ temperatures before we enter the school building. We stand in circles painted on the playground six feet apart, near the rest of our homeroom class. We wear masks. If it rains or it is too cold, they take our temperatures at the door.

Inside, we sit behind plastic desk shields, keep social distance, and remain with our homeroom classes all day. We do not use lockers. The gym and the playground are empty, except for when they are used for 10-minute mask breaks. There are no class trips (including the Eighth Grade Washington trip), no assemblies, no sports, and only virtual clubs.

The virus COVID-19, which was first reported in early January 2020, has not only affected the USA but the world. It has taken the lives of 1.9 million people globally, about 360,000 in the United States. Due to this pandemic, unfortunately, some adults have lost their jobs, which lead to losing their homes. In the week of April 12-18 2020, about 4.4 million people were unemployed. 

Here at BBES, the pandemic has transformed school in many different ways.

BBES was shut down on Friday, March 13, 2020, when all faculty and students immediately had to go virtual for the rest of the school year. Over the summer, Dr. Wisniewski and a committee made up of teachers and parents came up with plans to begin the new year in September. Now, we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to do either virtual or in-person classes. As of December 21, we were one of only 77 districts in the state that offered full-time instruction.

 “I believe it is important for our school to provide as much in-person learning as possible because this is the way students learn best, when they are in front of their teachers,” said Mrs. Zylinski, our supervisor of special services. “We have successful remote students, but I believe learning remotely is difficult for many students, especially younger students in the primary grades and students who benefit from teacher support to learn to their potential.”

As of Jan 14, we had 176 in person students and 84 remote students, according to Ms. Ramirez, assistant to the superintendent.

She said the school has purchased 36,685 masks for staff members as well as students.  

Since September, we have had three reported cases of COVID in the school, causing three different classes to quarantine for fourteen days each. The whole school went virtual twice, once on election day and once for a snow day.  

We talked to some students who learn at BBES, either virtual or in person. Nicholas O’Neill in the 6th grade, who does remote learning, stated, “It’s probably harder to do virtual than in person.” Nicholas then proceeded to explain that it’s definitely harder to concentrate. As a person that does virtual, I can 100% agree with Nicholas. 

Next, we talked to another student, Aubrey Maher. She is also in the 6th grade but learning in person. She confirms that you can understand the learning more, once you’re in person. Aubrey Maher confirms that “It’s less entertaining and very difficult to do online.”  

After listening to people’s opinions, we realized that we should have been more grateful in the past. We do not know what the future will hold, but with vaccinations now becoming available, we are hoping for a quick end to this pandemic. Meanwhile, we thank all the doctors, social workers, teachers, principals, and families all around the world for trying to make the world – and our school – a better and safe place.

Eighth graders wear masks on a trip to the beach for their yearbook portraits in October.

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