School year to end from home

Governor extends stay-at-home order through end of school year, LZHS reacts

After Gov. Pritzker's announcement today during his press conference, LZ will spend the rest of the school year E-learning. Although many are disappointed, Stephan Bild, interim principal, urges all to finish the school year strong.

Photo by and used with permission of Google

After Gov. Pritzker's announcement today during his press conference, LZ will spend the rest of the school year E-learning. Although many are disappointed, Stephan Bild, interim principal, urges all to finish the school year strong.

Bear Facts Staff

All Illinois schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year, said Governor J.B. Pritzker today during his daily coronavirus press briefing, making March 13 officially the last day of in-class schooling for the 2019-2020 school year.

E-learning will continue until the end of the year. Additionally, finals have been canceled, the College Board has already set plans in place for online AP testing, and all summer school classes will be virtual. 

But while those in charge have plans in place for how to get students through the rest of the e-school year, community membersespecially seniorsare torn over these unprecedented changes.

“I’m sad that [the school year’s] canceled because we’re missing a lot of milestones that come with reaching the end of senior year, like decision day and dress-up days and graduation and things of that sort,” Leah Salit, senior, said. While she concedes that she is “well aware of how necessary it is,” she adds, “I feel a bit cheated to be honest, like we made it through all of high school just for the best part to be canceled.”

Salit isn’t alone. Senior Anthony Libman echoes Salit’s comments, saying Pritzker’s announcement is “pretty bittersweet. I’m glad that I’ll keep having enough time to do school and work but at the same time, I miss seeing my classmates. I went home that [last] day excited to have a week or so off of school. I had no clue that would be the last day of school.”

While seniors report feeling cheated out of special celebrations for the end of their high school careers, Pritzker emphasized there are other important factors to consider as well.

“The importance of our schools and our in-person school days is not just a question of tradition and sentimentality, as essential as those things are – the shutting of in-person classroom time also risks a drop in instructional time, an extended window in which students can potentially experience summer learning loss, and an educational landscape in which some districts have more experience with remote learning than others,” he said in this afternoon’s press conference. “These challenges weighed heavily on me as we came to this decision – but my priority remains unchanged: how do we save the most lives during this difficult time? The answer to that question leaves us only with the path forward.”

And that path won’t be easy, according to students and staff alike.

“I have mixed feelings. I love waking up late and having to do my work at my own pace, but it’s hard to ask questions in detail when you’re stuck at home,” said Julie Lee, freshman, who says Biology has been the hardest class for her to do while at home. “There are so many details and explanations and it’s hard to find answers on Google, so I have to go through so many texts and emails.”

Just like students, teachers say they are feeling the mental and emotional impact of continuing school from home for the remainder of the school year.  

“I’m definitely saddened because I miss my students’ jokes, smiles, and thoughtfulness,” Elizabeth Slaughter, English teacher, said. “I want to give a special shout-out to my seniors, who have been brave and resilient throughout this process but have had to adjust to a new reality.”

That sense of gratitude and loss is shared by Annette Shaffer, ELL paraprofessional.

“It is very difficult to teach from afar, [and] it is difficult to not see students’ faces. I have had to rethink my approach because when you can’t explain things in person you have to be very creative,” said Shaffer, who works with students who may need more one-on-one assistance. “[As a school,] we will continue to support one another, and keep doing what is working.”

Stephan Bild, interim principal, says that teachers’ efforts haven’t gone unnoticed and that those efforts are necessary to students who are struggling with society’s new reality.

“I’ve been reminding them of all the things they’re doing well and that even though this is challenging and really upsetting for them to, they need to remember it’s even more upsetting for students,” Bild said. “We know we have some students that are struggling, either with keeping up academically or keeping up with all of the Zoom meetings, you know. So we’ve reached out to themteachers, counselors, the administrators, whoever – and we’re just calling and making sure they know we care about them, and we want them to be successful and keep going, no matter what, so that we finish strong.”

While Bild focuses on reaching a strong end, some students are coming to terms with the reality of today’s announcement. 

“I’m not excited for [eLearning to continue], but it would be selfish if I didn’t because we need to distance to keep the virus from spreading,” Rory O’Sullivan, junior, said.

Freshman Ryan Donnan agrees. 

“It’s very sad to hear but I understand why,” he said. “I know I won’t be able to see anyone for a while and I’ll be stuck at home.”

And now Donnan is focusing on something many of have begun to wonder about: “I’m worried about how long it’ll take to get back to whatever people consider normal.”