The Insider View

A Look Through The Eyes of Students and Staff Going To School

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Photo credit: Elizabeth Joebgen

“The Insider View.” 1st grade teacher Elizabeth Joebgen and her students on the playground.

COVID-19 is beginning to feel like the norm to many Chicagoans, but with the start of the school year splitting ways, Lower School in-person and Upper School online, people are curious. Those who can’t experience the start of their 2020-2021 education at 330 West Webster Avenue want to know how the classes are going, how the schedule works, or if the social distancing is really being implemented. Many Upper School students are jealous they aren’t entering the school every day, but not even the Lower and Middle School students are returning as usual. 

On July 10, the school announced in an email to parents and guardians from Principal Dan Frank that the Upper School will begin remotely. It stated that Parker wants all students, K-12, back for in- school learning, but “this model is not safe enough for us to put in action given the current public health vulnerabilities to COVID-19 for this particular age group.” That news was only for the Upper School, and as the email continued, it said “we have planned for a safe return to campus for all Lower, Intermediate, and Middle School students.” 

Sonia Pettinelli, a rising sixth grader, thought her first week was okay. “We haven’t been doing any work because it is mostly just meeting the teachers, but I will be going in every day starting September 14 which I’m very excited for,” Pettinelli said. Meeting back with her after the first three days of in-person learning, “school has been good. When we go into the school, they take our temperature and every day our parents fill out a health form,” Pettinelli said. She explained how in the classroom the desks are six-feet apart and while moving, teachers try to keep students distanced. 

The only time I can see people from other sections is before school, and when talking to people in my section, we sort of yell across the room.”

— Sonia Pettinelli

 Pettinelli takes her classes in the science wing, room 183, and all the other sixth grade classes are around that area. Although the other classes are so close, “the only time I can see people from other sections is before school, and when talking to people in my section, we sort of yell across the room,” Pettinelli said. 

Coming back to school, students are in person every day, from 8:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m. Eighth grade English Teacher and Grade Team Leader David Fuder  said he is excited to be back in person with his students and colleagues, especially after so long, but “I’m anxious about how it’s all going to work.” 

“I wish I could say that I felt greater confidence in the health and safety plans laid out by the administration and its committees, but many of them seem confusing and difficult to follow.” His worry is that although the school provided and worked hard on a plan that looked good on paper, it may not hold up well in practice.

Seventh grader Ari Deutsch described his first day of in-school learning, after a few days online. “School has been going well. The staff and teachers are handling it really well,” Deutsch said. “I think teachers and us, students, are doing really well with this, as we try to hand sanitize often and stay six-feet apart.” Deutsch explained how it feels very different than the past, especially lunch. “We sit at our designated desks and eat. We can try and talk, but it’s hard to hear each other, but it’s the only time we get to take our masks off,” Deutsch said. 

Deutsch’s twin sister and seventh grader Chloe Deutsch is having a similar experience, as she is in the same section as her brother. “During lunch, depending on the day and where we get assigned, we have a spot to eat where we can listen to our own music with headphones, or find a way to entertain ourselves due to not being allowed to talk,” Deutsch said. 

Hearing good feedback from most students, the hope for success is high. Deutsch, Pettinelli and Deutsch explained the procedures and social distancing are working well. Though Fuder mentioned how the on-paper plan may be better than real life, so far in person, Parker’s in-school has run with no cases of the coronavirus. The Upper School students are still online, with some grade gatherings, but jealousy lurks as they sit at home on computers. Frank expressed his wishes on seeing all students back in-person, but it isn’t quite safe enough. Although, with this progress, hopefully a future of all students at 330 West Webster Avenue, is in sight.