Vaccinations Result in Return to ‘Normalcy’

Vaccinations+Result+in+Return+to+%27Normalcy%27

Rory Summerville, Managing Editor

As we pass the one-year anniversary of our shift to remote and hybrid learning, the administration is implementing new rules to get more students in school five days a week.  

In an email sent by Superintendent Michael Simeck on Mar 9, students learned those who opted for in-person learning would attend school five days a week starting in early April. As for vaccinations rollout, administrators will relax physical distancing rules to allow more students in the building. 

Dean Frank Lesniak said more than 1,000 students will return for in-person learning in a few weeks. This is a drastic jump from some 600 students who were signed up for hybrid learning in the past.

In February, about 80 teachers worked with students from the building. That number is expected to jump to more than 100, as roughly 83% of teachers are slated to return in-person. This number is subject to change, as the teacher data was taken in late February before the school board announced the prospective changes. 

Ms. Rebecca Schwartz, President of the Lake Forest Education Association, hopes to debunk the myth that teachers are “choosing” to be remote instead of attending school. 

“LFEA Educators were not given a choice about teaching in-person vs teaching remotely, as students were. Therefore there is not a single teacher electing to be in person or remote. Any LFEA member who is accommodated to work remotely will still be engaging with, connecting with, and educating students as they have been all year,” Schwartz said.

The increase is a direct result of the COVID-19 vaccines and their increasing accessibility. Many teachers have received either one or both doses of the Pfizer and Moderna formula.

One of the biggest frustrations with the vaccine is trying to secure an appointment. In January and February, it was difficult as Illinois had few vaccines available. 

“One of my very good friends works at New Trier and one of the administrators at the school sent out a link to their staff about an office in Lincoln Park that was going to be opening up vaccine appointments at 11 am that day,” chemistry teacher Rebecca Sorenson said. “My friend immediately shared the info with me and I logged on a few minutes before 11. I had to hit refresh a few times, but at 11:03 the appointments opened and I got one of the first appointments.”

Now, vaccines are widely distributed at a faster rate. While some worry about side effects, most have not had major symptoms. 

“After the first shot I did not have any side effects,” wellness teacher Mrs. Kristen Anderson said, “but after the second one I felt very tired and had muscle aches for a day. Then it all went away. It was very temporary.” 

Mrs. Sorenson worked from home for two weeks after her second shot to ensure her safety. 

“After speaking with my doctor, he felt it was safe for me to return to the building as long as safety protocols were in place. I have now been back for two days,” she said. “It is so great to see my students in person even if things are not the same as a typical school year.”

While a majority of students have only been in the building for two days a week, some students have been going all four days. Many, like senior Blair Flavin, have felt like e-learning was not as effective for them, so they contacted their Dean and asked to go for the week. 

“I am so lucky to be able to come in all four days and experience what’s as close to normal school as it will get during these times,”  she said. “I also have a majority of my teachers in person, and the few remote ones will be returning after break. Hopefully, if COVID cases stay minimized and faculty and students follow restrictions, LFHS will be able to have full-time classes in the building for the rest of the year. 

“I cannot wait to finish out my senior year at LFHS with everybody back together.”