University Prep teachers and administrators are grappling with the unpredictability of the pandemic as they plan for the first fully in-person intensives cycle since the winter of 2020.
“We have been trying to gradually work our way back to normal school operation, as much as is possible while operating safely. The spring intensives are going to be consistent with the moves that we have been making during the semester,” Richard Kassissieh, assistant head of school for academics and strategic initiatives, said. “We’ll be taking another step toward normalcy, although it won’t feel normal.”
Spring intensives will begin May 25, almost a month after all students were given the option to return to campus simultaneously on Apr. 26.
“Some students will stay home, and they have the right to do so. They’ll be integrated into the class as well as possible,” Kassissieh said.
Some classes may forgo hybrid learning entirely if there are enough students who are online only and a teacher is available to teach an additional section, Kassissieh said.
Junior Raj Saluja, who has remained at home during the semester, has decided to return to campus for his intensive following his COVID-19 vaccination.
“I didn’t want to go back in until I’ve been fully vaccinated,” Saluja said.
Administrators have asked teachers of semester courses to keep their online students no longer than 50 minutes to prevent Zoom fatigue, forcing them to cut or cram content to accomodate for less class time. Science teacher and department head Nhu-Quynh Tu will take these lessons into intensives.
“We are mindful of students being on Zoom,” Tu said. “So for us, it’s about… asking, ‘What do we cut and what’s essential for our courses? How do we make sure that the students at home have the best experience and the most similar experience as the students on campus?’ That’s hard with a pandemic, because we don’t know what’s going to happen.”