This is my second year teaching math at Paul VI High School. After having my first year here cut short due to COVID last year, I was not sure what to expect starting out the 2020 - 2021 school year.
I still didn't know how everything worked under "normal" circumstances let alone in a COVID environment. I was concerned about the return to school after basically 6 months of isolation.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the results of the administration's hard work to address the health and safety concerns of everyone in the building. Proper protocols were put into place and are being strictly enforced. This is so reassuring and has helped to put me at ease with being back at school.
I have many friends who are still teaching in a fully virtual environment which is challenging and certainly not ideal. Now that we are six weeks into this year, I am so thankful to have part of life feel normal again by being able to come to work every day. The investment made in technology has really helped to address the needs of the students who are still at home as if they were actually in the classroom.
These are still challenging times, but the students, faculty, staff and administration at PVI have made the transition into this school year a positive and safe experience for which I am grateful.
Michele Stafford, of the dance department, is currently in her seventh year of teaching at Paul VI High School.
After graduating from Paul VI in 2007, Michele continued her education at Towson University earning a BFA in Dance Performance and Education. She has returned to Paul VI to teach dance and coach the dance team.
Upon returning in September 2020, there were many factors to consider in order to create a safe environment for every dancer. Within the classroom, dancers are equally spread out with plenty of distance. Masks remain on at all times and the dancers have learned how to manage this change. The daily routine is not regular this year. Classes who incorporate ballet have had to manage without using the ballet barre in order to increase safety.
It is important that dancers stay in the same space daily in order to provide accurate contact tracing when necessary. The dance team practices have been moved outdoors this year. The members of the team have adapted to using the grass instead of the dance floor and have gotten used to dancing without the mirrors. The masks have been an adjustment that everyone has adapted to while dancing, especially when trying to breathe while dancing. It is also more difficult to coach and project loud enough for all to hear and understand instructions.
Although the year started differently than any other year, it is worth every change since performances and daily class are able to happen again. The dancers are extremely excited to be back in the classroom and exploring their creativity.