JOHNSTOWN, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Students in the Westmont Hilltop School District are now able to return to in-person classes five days a week.
“It’s like the first day of school all over again,” said Thomas Mitchell, Superintendent at Westmont.
If parents weren’t comfortable with their kids returning face-to-face full-time, the school has other options.
“We have the five-day in-person option, we also have a full-time and part-time blended option and a full-time cyber option. So students and families have several choices for their educational environment,” said Mitchell. “There’s a lot of misinformation/uncertain information at this time so giving everyone the choice that they feel comfortable returning to school or staying in whatever option they feel comfortable with.”
“Because we opened Hybrid, we were able to understand what our different phases look like in red and yellow. We almost got to practice them for the first five weeks and get ready in case we needed to transition back. Now we’re ready to be five days a week learning or a virtual model we know what to expect because we’ve worked through that the last five weeks,” said Lynn Clement, Principal at Westmont High School.
Students were previously split up by last name and one senior says it’s almost surreal to be back with everyone.
“It’s crazier than I even thought it would be. I didn’t think when I saw everyone else altogether in the halls again that it would feel quite like this. It just really is a whole new first day of school. It’s a welcome back, it’s a coming back to normalcy type of thing just having all my classes with all my classmates I’ve known since I was how old…it’s really just amazing to just be able to do this,” Lakyn Davis.
Clement says opening up five days a week gives students the chance to connect where it may have been harder while remote learning.
“It’s not the same as being able to raise your hand and ask a question even though we try to use our tools online, it’s just not the same as that human connection. We talk often about building relationships with students and you can’t discount that in-person relationship building that occurs when the students are here.”
Mitchell says if things stay the way they are now, the school will reassess the situation sometime in early November.