Virtual Variations: Student Community Tackles Hybrid Learning


Kailey Albus, Editor-in-Chief

This was the first year sophomore Connor Boyle didn’t have to prioritize the planning of his first day of school outfit.

“I typically put a lot of effort into the first few outfits of the year,” Boyle said. “But this year, I just rolled out of bed. I didn’t worry about my face or my hair or anything – honestly, it felt kind of nice.”

That’s certainly one advantage to online learning: most of the time, you only need to look presentable from the neck up.

The seemingly endless threat of COVID-19 has caused most high schools across Illinois to operate fully online for their first semester; however, with District 115’s recent decision to adapt to an e-hybrid procedure, LFHS will join New Trier High School as one of the only North Shore schools to open to students in October.

On Aug. 4, the School Board released their finalized system for operation during the 20-21 school year. The e-hybrid plan, officially titled “The Road to Reopening,” went through a plethora of revisions over the summer – even prompting a four hour community-wide discussion via Google Meets. Although the plan calls for both in person and remote courses, students were given the choice to either follow the hybrid procedure or opt for a completely remote curriculum. Prompted by a survey, a recent email from School Board President David Lane revealed that 85% of students chose to comply with the plan as written, while the remaining 15% opted to stay at home.

The initial construction of the hybrid plan proved to be quite controversial within the LFHS community. 

Despite the consensus reached among the board, students have mixed opinions on “The Road to Reopening”. These viewpoints vary on almost every matter there is to discuss; no matter where the student body stands on the subject of COVID-19, it seems that no one has the right answer as to how to properly improve the plan.

Junior Lyn Stanley simply commends the board for their ability to accommodate the students who thrive in the classroom, even with the threat of a pandemic looming over their heads. 

“Some students just have trouble learning over the internet,” Stanley said. “I think a hybrid option is going to be much better for those students, especially with student-teacher communication being so limited right now.”

Stanley’s stance is certainly a popular one; senior Emily Bertram said she respects the effort on the board’s part to push in person interaction, but worries the Class of 2021 will lose the senior privileges they’ve been anticipating since their freshmen year.

“While I’m happy that I have the option to go back in October, I wish the seniors could return earlier than some of the other grade levels,” she said. “It’s our final year, and we should have the opportunity to make the most of it.”

Despite her issue with the senior class’ late return, Bertram appreciates the work the district has put into crafting such a detailed plan.

“The board has done the best they can by providing the e-hybrid model – I think it was definitely the best way to satisfy as many people as possible,” she said. “I am, however, concerned about how long we will really get to learn in person; even if one person contracts the virus, it could cause a widespread issue for all.”

Bertram is not alone in this concern; recent graduate Sophie Prozument not only fears for the safety of the students, but the teachers who are obligated to the classroom.

“To me, it seems like the health of the teachers is not even a thought,” Prozument said. “My mom is a teacher, and honestly, I’m a little scared for her.”

Sophomore Sydney Rubinstein simply hopes that everyone – students, teachers, and staff members alike – realizes the severity of the situation.

“I just feel like [going in person] is not really worth it,” Rubinstein said. “It really does put so many people at risk.”

Risk seems to be a widely abundant concern among all students, but especially for those who won’t be partaking in the hybrid plan. Senior Yana Savitsky, who opted for fully remote learning, recognizes that not every student or faculty member shares the same opinions on the virus.

“Being a part of Link Crew and cross country, I’ve noticed that, while we all try our absolute best to be safe and carry out the proper protocols, [COVID-19] is truly different for all of us,” Savitsky said. “I don’t always trust that every student, myself included, is diligent enough to wear a mask the whole time, stay socially distant, and not share materials or supplies when needed.”

No matter where you get your information from or who you trust to follow the rules, every aspect of LFHS’ plan is subject to change with the rising or falling cases in Illinois. Even so, students find the amount of uncertainty linked to the situation unsettling.

“I felt like I should be happy that we’ll have the option to go back in the building, but I honestly can’t help feeling scared,” said junior Sarah Mack.

Given the precarious nature of COVID-19, with its endless cycle of devastation and destruction,  all we can do is simply embody who we are as a school. For the past 85 years, this ivy covered institution has functioned on the foundation of excellence: in the classrooms, on the field, under the spotlight, and now, through the computer screen. As you tackle the glitches and hiccups, continue to embrace the qualities that make LFHS students stand out among the rest – be brave, be bold, be flexible, be fearless.