How is school working this year?


Sabrina Sabatin

Neuqua students work independently on their math worksheet.

The experience of the 2021-2022 school year is new for all students. As they attempt to transition back into a relatively normal year, students are struggling to adjust to a full school day and twice as much work being received in comparison to the year and a half of e-learning that previously occurred.

In May 2021, Indian Prairie District 204 announced that in-person schooling is mandatory for all students of the district and that hybrid and remote learning were not going to be options.

“On May 19, 2021, the Illinois State Board of Education unanimously adopted a Resolution Supporting In-Person Learning that supports the Illinois State,” District 204 declared.

This is a difference from last year’s optional in-person learning, where students had the choice between attending school and/or staying online. This adoption from the Illinois State Board of Education has made it mandatory for students to attend school in person.

Neuqua Valley High School officials and staff, including the school’s principal Dr. Lance Fuhrer, have worked to create a hospitable environment to help students adjust to school as smoothly as possible.

“Our job is to make this place engaging, and it’s our role to communicate what value school can have for [a student’s] lifelong term,” Dr. Fuhrer says.

Several changes in school have been made to accommodate the pandemic including practicing social distancing during lunch while students have masks off for a period and allowing seniors to go off campus to increase seating availability within the cafeteria.

When asked what he believed the main challenge of returning to school this year was and how the school staff handled it, Dr. Fuhrer said “lunch is always a challenge… masks are off, so we rearranged our lunchroom.”

District 204 has also enforced an indoor mask mandate to in-person classes in early August, after Gov. J.B. Prizker’s announcement. Despite these changes, Neuqua has overall kept a similar learning environment as it did before COVID-19. Many teachers, as well as parents, believe that a hands-on, in person learning experience is better for the education of their students.

“Let’s try to keep our mind focused on what we can do; we can do labs and hands-on activities, we can be outside and do things like the Wildcat kick off, football [games], pep [rallies] or a homecoming dance.”

Of course, there have been and will be multiple challenges throughout this school year as we adjust to the effects of the pandemic such as students needing to quarantine if they are unvaccinated until they can prove a negative test, infected students unable to attend class along with those who were known to have been with them while they had contracted the illness – which is possible due to the system that the school has in place of contact tracing, and the challenges of people who do not wear their masks correctly. However, Neuqua will continue to keep pushing forward and focusing on what can be done to further improve the experience of its students.