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New Assistance Principal Taylor Gilbreath learns how to navigate a new school during a pandemic. (Josh Fritz / The Talon News)

New Students, Teachers Deal with COVID-19 Precautions

September 3, 2020

As the entire district is learning to adapt and overcome, new students and teachers are being thrown into an even more challenging set of circumstances. 

“I’m glad things are working out, but I’m wondering how long it’s going to last,” new English and Journalism I teacher Mike Birnbaum said. “Fingers crossed that it does.”

After many former members of staff left unexpectedly, the school hired new teachers closer to the school year than normal. This left little time for teachers to prepare for the normal school year and for all the new measures put in place. 

“It was a challenge, but I knew it would be,” new history teacher Steven Orlowski said. “I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take this position and come to Argyle. It was also kind of scary to have to learn all-new programs and things unique to Argyle in such a short time frame since I was hired at the end of July.”

The implementation of  masks especially caused issues for new students and teachers alike. 

“I can’t read students’ faces anymore,” Birnbaum said. “I don’t know if they’re smiling, or what they’re saying. It’s also kind of hard to hear and speak. There’s like this wall in between.” 

New students to the district have struggled to branch out and make friends while wearing masks.

“The masks make it very hard to meet a person, understand them, and know who they are exactly,” sophomore Taylor Troseth said. “I have no idea what the majority of people in my class even look like!”

Returning students who chose to attend school virtually from home are also adapting to not being able to connect with their teachers or peers.

“My biggest challenge doing virtual learning is staying in the loop with things that are happening at school like clubs and extracurricular activities,” senior virtual learner Hope Freeman said. “One thing that I have found is that when you’re at school there is a lot of wasted time and when you are at home there is a lot of down time because you can finish your work a lot quicker.” 

Many new students and teachers are coming from districts that are doing fully remote learning. Argyle is one of the few schools that have re-entered in-person school this semester.

“I’m really glad Argyle allows people to come to school and participate in activities because my old school is still online and that would make it very difficult to meet people,” Troseth said. “And I’m so thankful that we can have football games and I can dance at them!!”

Although a challenge, staff members are determined to make this year successful. 

“I think it’s great to have kids at school,” Assistant Principal Taylor Gilbreath said. “That’s what school is. It’s about the kids. I’m so happy to be here and have kids at school. I just hope that everybody can stay healthy.”

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