Zooming into in-person school

Julia Rich, Reporter

Students will be able to utilize Zoom during absences of three days or more going into the 2021-2022 school year. Students who have COVID-19, a long-term illness or another emergency related situation will now be able to use Zoom as a tool to help keep up with class work. 

According to Dean of Students Roslyn Landy, this school year, everybody except the sixth grade and a few seventh graders are required to be, and are, vaccinated. Landy said that this status change makes it safe for classes to reconvene in the building.

“We will use Zoom for a student who either has COVID or is out for surgery or another extended illness,” Landy said. “It is not designed for students who are away to ski or take a warm weather vacation.”

According to Landy, a student with or who was exposed to COVID-19 is required to attend school on Zoom as long as they are physically well enough to do so.

Over the last year and a half, students and faculty have learned to use Zoom effectively. World Languages Department Chair and Spanish teacher Silvia Kurlat Ares said that a lot of teachers took classes before the start of the 2020-2021 school year about how to teach online.

“It’s not something I did before. It’s not something I knew how to do, so I took a lot of classes, and I know a lot of other teachers also did,” Kurlat Ares said. “But once I got the hang of it, I really like it, and I was working really really hard to develop those classes because it was very different.”

So far this year, Kurlat Ares had to use Zoom in one of her classes. Because of her experience with Zoom last year, Kurlat Ares said she had no problem with the format.

“I’m perfectly okay with that because I already know what to do. I already know how to manage it,” Kurlat Ares said.

It is CESJDS policy that a student who gets COVID-19 or is exposed must notify school Nurse Heather Greenblum. Greenblum will then tell High School Principal Dr. Lisa Vardi, and she will tell the technology department so that Zoom can be set up in all of the student’s classrooms. In addition, the student’s counselors and teachers will be notified so they can be in touch with the quarantined student.

The student’s experience on Zoom will differ from when all students were doing online learning. According to Landy, the student will not be able to participate.

“It is very difficult for teachers to handle both in-person teaching and Zoom at the same time. Managing the puck [speaker] is distracting to all, so we are focusing on the students who are in the classroom,” Landy said. “Students who are at home Zooming in can listen but not participate.”

Senior Nava Fischman-Charry was quarantined early in the school year. When she first learned about the requirement of going on Zoom, she noted that the situation was not ideal considering she was to be the only person online during her classes.

“Some of my teachers were trying to get me included but it didn’t work…I think that was because I didn’t have a presence to make it clear if I wanted to say something,” Fischman-Charry said. “When you’re on Zoom you have to rely on people seeing a rectangle on the screen.”

To Fischman-Charry, the idea of being able to use Zoom is better than the reality.

“It did help to keep my day structured and allowed me to know what was happening in the class,” Fischman-Charry said. “But because I had to rely on my teachers’ cameras and microphones, I was unable to see and hear the lesson properly.”