District News

The District Reflects and Moves Forward

The pandemic changed the approach to almost every aspect of school for staff and students. Instruction, attendance, grading, the role of technology, and human connections were evaluated and re-evaluated. Due to the stringent return-to-school protocols and procedures, set by the District, Byram Hills was back in school at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Grades K-6 were in the buildings full-time, and students were thriving in the classroom environment. They had crates for their belongings, protective desk shields, handwashing and sanitizer stations, upgraded air filtration systems, and much more. Students and staff adjusted quickly and upheld protocols each day. Grades 7-12 experienced hybrid learning - in school two days a week, alternating Wednesdays, and remotely for two days. Hybrid learning kept the number of students at half capacity each day, allowing for social distancing, until it was increased to 70% capacity later in the year.

Every building was transformed to create socially distanced learning spaces. Schools opened movable walls between classrooms while gymnasiums, music, and art rooms were restructured as educational spaces. “Our room was the library, which was cool because our whole class could be together,” said grade 5 student Maxwell DeLuca. In addition, the Byram Hills Education Foundation generously provided ViewSonic monitors to every teacher in the District, allowing interactive lessons for remote and in-person learning. “I got used to working on my chrome book and with the Promethean board very quickly. I think it was easier to do everything through google classroom, and I liked all the new technology,” said grade 5 student Layna Delk.

A year later, the District is ready to move forward with a full-time return-to-school plan for 2021-22. The goal is for 100% in-person learning back in original classrooms. K-5 will continue to utilize crates and outdoor learning spaces while lunch and specials will head back to their original areas. Plastic barriers around students’ desks will no longer be in use, and Wednesdays will go back to full-day learning K-5. The HCC schedule will begin the day with Xpod, as it had many benefits for all students. Grades 7 and 8 will run a block schedule allowing for extended periods to delve deeper into content. There will be similar blocks of class time at the high school with their new schedule, and an extended lunch period for the entire building.

As mask and capacity rules changed near the end of the 2020-21 school year, students began to feel their school day return to normalcy. One of the biggest days for Wampus students is Field Day, and in mid-June children were able to share in this experience once again. Jacob Singer, a grade 5 student and a winner of the Field Day Sportsmanship Award said, “It was the best day of the school year. It felt so good to be together as a grade.” Leah Stein, also a fifth-grader and winner of the Field Day Sportsmanship Award said, “It felt like things were starting to be back to usual like we were all together as one fifth grade community.”

During this event, the positivity felt by students and teachers was acknowledged as a reassuring sign of things to come.
Wampus Field Day 2021