Day in the life of a hybrid student

Zachary Bahar, Executive Editor

* What follows is not the most conventional Evanstonian story. Rather, it is an attempt to imagine what a day in hybrid learning, which will begin for ETHS students on April 15 for those who opt-in, might look like. It is based on the information available as of March 4 and will not perfectly reflect reality. That said, I hope it helps you picture what the future holds.

It’s been a long, painful year.

On March 13, 2020, ETHS was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, he just thought it was a short-term thing. “You’ll be back after spring break,” everyone told him; he thought that was too long to call off school, “This is serious—way worse than the flu—but not that serious.”

“Lord was I wrong.”

But, that doesn’t matter anymore. As he looks at the bag sitting on his bed, Sam is delighted; today is April 15, the first day of school.

As he runs out the door and hops onto his bike, he grabs his masks. While this is a big change, it’s not THAT big a change. Arriving at ETHS, he looks up and admires the pillars towering over the entrance. It’s strange to be here again, after so long. I wonder how much it’s changed? How much I’ve changed?

Before getting the chance to ponder that question, he sees Mary running up to him. Slipping a lock around his bike, he calls out to her.

“Mary! How are you? It’s been a while.”

“Hey, Sam. I know, right. I think I saw you in March. Yeah, early March, because we went to the rocks right after the snow melted.”

“Sounds about right, I’m glad we’re in the same group though; it’ll be good to have someone I know in my classes.”

“Definitely! Ready?”

Sam and Mary have names nestled right next to each other in the alphabet—Green and Harris respectively—and as such, when the school was divided into fourths, they were placed in Group B together.

“Remember,” the safety officer at the door says as they pass through the arched portico into the building, “Keep your distance: six feet apart. Masks on! Covering the nose. Follow the markings.”

Mary pulls ahead as they enter the hallway and moves to get in front of Sam. Colorful cones split the hall, with arrows marking what direction people should take. By the staircase ahead, an arrow dictates that this flight leads up. A small screen takes his temperature as another staff member asks for his ID, 3253019, and verifies that he filled out the daily self-certification form on MyETHS.

He joins Mary and they walk up to the third floor towards their first-period chemistry class.

“Look! It’s my old locker; sad that I won’t be able to use it.”

“I know! We used to meet here every morning, but not much to do about it.” 


They make their way into the chemistry room, where plexiglass separates their teacher, Dr. Viren, from the rest of the class and where the old, epoxy that had been clumped together are spread out to reduce contact space. Sitting down at adjacent, forward-facing, assigned tables they take out their computers as a familiar bell rings.

“Hello, class!” Viren says both into her computer and at the other five students present in person. “I’m really glad to finally get to put a face to some of your names. We have until 11:15, so let’s to it.”

For the next 65 minutes, Viren talks about the VESPR model of molecular geometry. It’s a bit clunky as, in addition to the seven students in person, there are 19 online.

“I promise I’ll get better at using this,” Viren adds towards the end of the first period. “It’s a bit different than what we’ve gotten used to, but we’re building this plane together. Feel free to take a quick break, and we’ll come back at 10:10.”

The students in the room stand up and stretch. It’s a bit quiet, none of them have gotten the chance to meet each other, not really. After five minutes, class starts up again, and 65 minutes later, everyone shuffles out of the classroom.

Slowly, Sam and Mary walk back to the door they entered a bit more than two hours earlier, as they leave the building, someone is passing out lunch bags. It’s Thursday, which means that after the two periods in the morning, they have an hour to get home and eat before returning to another three periods remotely as another cohort of students flows into the building for afternoon classes—periods 3, 4 and 5, in this case.

“That was interesting.”

“Yeah, It was good to see people, but it will definitely take some getting used to.”

“Agreed. But, I’m glad it’s happening; crazy that it’s been over a year.”

“Well, it was nice seeing you! See you in history tomorrow.”


Tomorrow, Friday, Sam will come in the afternoon for two periods; switching his schedule from today. After that it will be another week before he gets to have class in the building as the other two groups spend the days in person.

As he peddles home, he thinks “That was a good enough day; at the very least, it was something different.”