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West Middle resumed full in-person instruction in March.

By: Isaiah Merricks, 8th Grade

For many it was a sigh of relief when Jessamine County Schools reopened its doors to full in-person instruction in March. However, the road to get there was filled with ever changing instructional models and mixed feelings for both teachers and students. 

Jessamine county has implemented several schedules this year, each unique and each presenting new challenges and different things to adjust to. Among these schedules was the A-day/B-day hybrid schedule, which was eighth-grade student Samuel Rainwater’s favorite out of all the schedules this year. “You still go to school so it’s better than virtual, but you still have time off.” Rainwater also said that hybrid kept his learning at a good pace, faster than virtual. “I feel like it was just kind of the same as regular in-person.” But, not everyone liked that form of learning. Ben Page, a sixth-grader, had some thoughts of his own. “The A, B, schedule, it was really hard to keep track.” Page also has an opinion about the current schedule which, is four days a week full in-person and Fridays with six, 25 minute Google Meets. “My favorite thing would probably be the Fridays off…,” he said. “It’s a lot less stressful than a real school day.” Conall Sharp, a seventh-grader at West Jessamine Middle School, shared his opinions about Google meets on every Friday. “I think they’re good, but … they take a lot of time compared to the VLA where there [was] just a Google meet at 9 AM. It takes up half the school day, because you have to wake up at 9 AM and they go to 12.”

Another one of the schedules JCS used during the year was the Extended Digital Learning. EDL consisted of two, 40 minute Google Meets a day. “I didn’t really like it because every day you had Google Meets at a certain time … the schedule was just insanely impossible to memorize. I had to keep looking back at a chart I got at the start of the school year, because I just couldn’t remember when my classes were,” Sharp shared. This sentiment has been a common theme throughout the school year among many students.

However, things aren’t always as they seem, and decisions that were made to make the schedule this way are more complicated than you might expect. With changing COVID numbers and safety recommendations adjusting almost daily, JCS buckled down and work with what they had.

“It was definitely a challenge from a lot of different perspectives. One big challenge was having to make these decisions relatively quickly,” said Superintendent Matt Moore.

The constant shifting of schedules and the desire to return to normal brought frustrations for many. “It’s just really stressful more than anything,” Sharp said. “It seemed like each week you had to learn a new schedule, this week we’re back in person, this week we’re A-day B-day, now we’re VLA… it was super weird.”

Eighth-grade Social Studies teacher Angela Burton has a similar view. “Every quarter I have gained or lost students that I didn’t have at the beginning of the school year, and so there’s been this element of introducing myself to students every quarter… developing those structures of them learning how I work in the classroom and me learning how they work,” Burton said.

But while this school year had it’s downs for sure, there’s also been more than enough ups to balance those out. “I’m really happy with the way our students have handled [COVID].” Moore said. “It really just proves how resilient they are. Just walking into classrooms and looking at some of the data we have, our students have learned a lot and I really think they’ve stayed positive throughout this year.”

Moore’s parting message? “I just reflect on all these experiences with COVID, just how proud I am of the Jessamine County teachers, and everyone in the schools.”