During any given school year in Missouri, it is expected to have days where school is canceled due to snow or any other type of weather. Many schools even prepare for this by incorporating snow days into their calendars. But what do they do when something unprecedented happens?
On March 15, @WindsorOwls (Windsor C-1 SD) announced on Twitter: “Windsor C-1 will be closing classes effective 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17th. The District will re-evaluate the situation prior to the conclusion of spring break on April 10th. Please check your email and all district communications. Thank you.”
This announcement followed months of increasing worry and panic surrounding the COVID-19 virus, or Coronavirus, a disease that causes respiratory illness with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. The virus originated in China where it has since spread all across the globe, becoming a pandemic.
With more and more cases being found in Missouri and to the north of Jefferson County in St. Louis County, the Jefferson County Health Department ordered all Jefferson County public schools to close from March 17 through April 3 and plan on schools being able to reopen on April 6. But as the disease becomes more rampant, that date is increasingly looking uncertain.
This unprecedented situation has led to schools utilizing modern solutions to ensure students do not miss out on their education.
Windsor High School principal Jason Naucke said, “The most important thing to us is to continue the learning, so we had to try and figure out a way where we could still provide that service to our students, and our community, and our families. That is why we tried to go with this e-learning model.”
Starting on March 23, students will be receiving and doing classwork from the comfort of their homes. Teachers will be in contact with students to ensure they receive their classwork and continue learning as usual.
“We’re going to push out as much as we can and make it as normal as possible. It’s not going to be normal,” Naucke said. “What I would say to both the students and the parents and all of the people that are out there is that it is probably going to look a little messy at first because this is the first time we’ve ever done this. And any time you do anything for the first time, it’s not perfect. It’s going to be imperfect, and we are just going to work our way through it.”
While the cancellation of school may not be a big deal to some, the uncertainty it brings is scary to many seniors who are trying to prepare for life after high school.
Naucke said, “Because you have students that still have future plans, stopping instruction would hurt them. We want to make sure we continue to deliver instruction, and students can continue to learn. That way, their future plans don’t get halted, even though the regular education setting has been halted.”
One student who is affected by this situation is senior Terra Spradling. She is one of many seniors who are left in the dark about how this could affect things like prom, graduation, and their plans to go to college.
Spradling said, “As (we went) into first semester, (it) was a breeze in a sort of way. Like ‘Hey, seniors enjoying their senior year.’ You know, we’re getting stuff done. As we got into second semester, things just kind of hit differently. It started to become a little bit surreal for everybody. Seniors started to finalize things. We were so ready to get signings done, and now with schools closing, it is almost a little unfair to us, in a way. But what really matters is the health of everyone else in the school, and not spreading this virus.”
The traditions that come with being a high school senior are things students look forward to. Now, with schools closing suddenly, Spradling and, surely, other students might look back on high school differently since they don’t know if they will return nor do they know if they will be able to take part in those senior traditions.
“I wish I could’ve had the chance to sit down and enjoy it (her senior year) more, and just take a look around and be like, ‘Hey, these are people I’ve spent my entire life with. I’ve walked these halls everyday for the past four years.’ That’s just something I wish I would’ve appreciated a little more,” Spradling said. “I was super excited to go into my college career and all of that, but with everything being closed down, I haven’t heard anything from my college. For right now, my future is not completely set in stone, so I’m just in this middle ground where it’s sort of a grey area, and I don’t know what’s going on. I feel like a lot of seniors are probably in the same boat as I am.”
Even though seniors are the ones who are taking the biggest hit from this unprecedented situation, all students are affected in different ways. The youngest group of high schoolers, the freshmen, have yet to experience a full year of the so-called normal “high school experience.”
While looking back on this school year, freshman Bradley Cancienne said, “It kind of (stinks) because it’s pretty much over now. It kind of just screwed up (the rest of) my freshman year.”
The 2019-2020 school year may have been a rocky start for the Class of 2023, however, they have an advantage the upperclassmen don’t have: time.
Cancienne said, “(Next year), I’ll be prepared and try harder. I tried hard this year, but I wish I tried harder. I’ll probably do more stuff.”
This situation is a tough time for everyone: students, parents, teachers, and the administration. Everyone is going to have to work together if they want to come out of this successful.
Naucke said, “If people have questions, they just need to make sure they’re in communication with their teachers or their counselors or the administration. We’re going to work through this the best we can.”