Hybrid learning brings drastic changes to schooling

Thomas Reinhart and Elle Chen

After three full weeks of distance learning, Saint Paul Academy and Summit School is now in a fully hybrid-mode of learning. Now in the second week of a hybrid format, the school looks much different than it did only a year ago. Harkness tables are no more, the majority of hallways are one way, common areas are quiet, and safety is paramount.

One major difference in the old SPA and the SPA of now is the common areas. Sections of the school such as Huss or Schilling Center used to be filled with students. Laughs, conversations, and other noises rung about the commons. From just hanging out to doing homework, these areas were almost always filled with students of all grades. Now, these areas look very different. Over half of the chairs have been removed and the remaining ones are distanced six feet apart. Plexiglass can also be seen dividing the once filled tables, allowing no more than a few students to collaborate closely.

Photo taken by Mimi Huelster and Thinglinks made by Elle Chen

“It sucks that I can’t sit next to my friends during free periods or downtime. The sharing of laughs is something that I truly miss. However, I am grateful for the study spaces because it helps me get work done while on campus,” senior Senai Assefa said.

This feeling is mutual amongst students in the community. “The lack of social moments, whether that be doing homework with friends or hanging out in Schilling during tutorial, is something that I miss,” senior Sara Browne said.

Another is the hallways. Last year, hallway commotion was common. Multiple students walking together, stopping to talk, and even do homework. Now, almost all of the hallways are one way in order to limit traffic. It bodes for quite a navigation around the school, however, as it may take a treacherous journey to get from math to history class.

The lack of social moments, whether that be doing homework with friends or hanging out in Schilling during tutorial, is something that I miss.”

— senior Sara Browne

Another aspect of school that looks much different are school-wide assemblies. Usually every Friday X-period was filled with senior speeches in the Huss Center. All four hundred of the upper school students, families, friends, and teachers piled into the auditorium to listen to the seniors leave their final marks on the school. Now, the auditorium is a ghost town when seniors give their speeches. Only a select few family members and the advisories of the speakers are allowed to watch; all from a safe distance apart. The rest of the community tunes in virtually, from their advisory spaces. All school assemblies may never be what they once were, depending on the closing of the COVID-19 pandemic, the gathering sizes may be very limited.

For the meantime, SPA and its community will remain in a hybrid format, sending the upper school to campus Monday and Tuesday, and the middle school to campus Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays will remain flex days, in which some students will be back on campus where others are remote. The campus looks a lot different than it did last year, understandably so, but the students and faculty are very happy to see one another again, regardless of the changes.