LHS Returns to In-Person Learning Model


Spanish teacher Ryan Casey in his classroom. Photo by Michael Gordon

Vedanti Bhargava and Jahnavi Bolleddula

On Aug. 31, Lexington High School conducted a full return for all students and staff after almost two years of modified learning.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, LHS offered hybrid and remote learning, in which students attended classes either online, in-person, or both. Now, as all students have returned in-person, teachers are once again tasked with overseeing full classrooms and building a sense of community among students.

“It feels great to be back in the classroom with all of the students. The kind of energy that you can get from fully in-person instruction, obviously is incomparable to what we had for most of last year,” Ryan Casey, a Spanish teacher at LHS, said.

Justin Aramati, a music teacher at LHS, compared the overall engagement and performance level of students from last year to this school year.

“I feel that kids are even more invested and engaged because they missed it so much last year,” Aramati said. 

Due to the constantly evolving COVID-19 safety protocol, many departments have had to adapt. The Language Department, in particular, has had a difficult time guiding students in learning a language with the mask mandate.

“[It’s difficult] for students to understand clearly what I’m saying in Spanish and for me to understand what students are saying, especially as they’re learning to pronounce and enunciate properly,” Casey said.

In addition to following COVID-19 protocols, teachers have had to modify lesson plans to match the recent transition to the six-day schedule.

“One of the benefits of last year was paring down the curriculum, really identifying what was most essential. And so I think what I’m doing, what many of us were doing this year, is trying to take that information and kind of overlay it on the new schedule,” Casey said.

While adjusting to the transition process, LHS faculty have taken various steps to prioritize mental health.

“I try to make sure that the work I take home with me doesn’t take over everything else. So making sure I set aside at least one day on the weekend where I’m not working, and making sure I’m getting exercise and eating relatively well. Just trying to take care of my body, because that makes me take care of my brain,” Melissa Soule, an English teacher at LHS, said.

During this period, many teachers have found support from their department heads while navigating the safety and quality of the new learning model. Jared Cassedy, the LPS Performing Arts Coordinator, researched and proposed a solution to allow music classes to continue safely.

“Mr. Cassedy went and did all the research and found out what was going on at colleges and universities. He presented the case to the administration and selected the Board of Health, and he got us clearance to be able to play indoors. So without his support, and without the support of upper administration of the central office, we would not have been able to do what we did,” Aramati said.

With the goal of future years being free of restrictions, many teachers emphasized the importance of following COVID-19 precautions. 

“I think that all of us kind of want this to be over. And I don’t think it’s all going to go. It’s very tempting to say we’re back to normal, but we are not back to normal. And I think that’s something we all have to remember,” Aramati said.