COVID-19 impacts Stamford students, residents as virus continues to spread

An email sent to students outlines a block schedule to maintain structure despite distance learning // Image courtesy of Administrator Mr. Wax.

What was originally supposed to be a two-week closing of Stamford schools will now be at least a month-long period of distance learning due to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Governor Ned Lamont announced that all schools will stay closed through April 20 and predicts that it will not open until next school year, according to nbcconnecticut.com. Students and faculty will now have at least four full weeks of distance learning, not including spring break, which will occur as planned from April 6-10.

COVID-19 has made its way to Stamford, which has 48 confirmed cases as of March 25, according to nbcconnecticut.com. Multiple testing sites are now in operation, including one at Stamford Hospital’s Bennett Medical Center and a drive-through location at Cummings Park. 

In order to help students succeed as they continue their schooling, Westhill has adopted an A/B schedule, which went into effect on Monday, March 23. The schedule allots specific times for live lessons to occur, if teachers so choose to host them, so as to prevent conflicts between multiple classes in a student’s schedule. Along with designated class times for these live lessons, the last block on a B Day is reserved for “Student Support Time” during which all teachers will be available to assist students with their work. 

However, the schedule does not mandate each student to be awake and learning at the start of each weekday. Students should check Google Classroom daily to see how the new schedule may affect each of their classes.

“I have not as of yet seen the necessity of live lessons, so you may feel free to sleep in a bit Tuesday, and then check my post. No need to be online at 7:30,” English teacher Ms. Tobin wrote on her AP English Literature and Composition Google Classroom. 

As students are stuck at home, Westhill has established Social Distance Learning Spirit Week in an effort to keep spirits high in these uncertain times. The week consists of five days spanning from March 23 to March 27, encouraging students to wear themed outfits each day and post on social media with the hashtag #WHSDLSpiritWeek. Shared pictures will be featured in a special yearbook supplement. 

Students who were planning to take springtime exams such as AP Exams and the SAT will have slightly different plans this year. For the first time, AP exams will not be taken at school. Instead, each course will now have a 45-minute online free response exam which can be taken from any electronic device, according to apcentral.collegeboard.org.

The College Board is also providing free live and on-demand AP lessons for all courses beginning Wednesday, March 25. These lessons will mostly review content students have learned in school as a result of the decision to alter exams to focus on content completed prior to the switch to distance learning. There will be two different testing dates for each exam so as to allow students to choose whether they want to test while content is fresh in their minds or to have additional time to practice. More information will be released on April 3. 

“I do not know how to [prepare] for whatever form of testing [the] College Board gives me because no one has the details yet,” Sabrina Morency (’21) said of these unprecedented changes.  

The March 25 in-school SAT, required of all Connecticut high school juniors, has been postponed. The College Board said they will provide additional testing opportunities “as soon as possible” for all canceled exams, including those scheduled for March and May outside of school. For more information on the SAT and AP Exams, students should visit the collegeboard.org and check their emails for further updates.

As new information comes out each day, students are reminded to check the Westhill website for daily announcements and to stay safe as we undergo this historic time together as one Viking and Stamford community.

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