Back to School: Students Return to Campus

By Jack Viscuso ’21 and Jackson Kobylarcz ’21

After six months of Zoom meetings and no Flyer Specials, Chaminade’s student body and faculty returned to 340 Jackson Ave in what was the most unusual of beginnings to a school year. Donning face masks and maintaining social distance was an ever present reminder of a global pandemic’s lingering effects. Like most of the world, the Chaminade Family has adapted to these circumstances in unconventional ways, yet the spirit of strength and unity that defines this community has endured. 

Safety precautions have forced students to adjust to learning in unconventional places. Here, a class of juniors study inside the Physical Fitness Center.

In accordance with directives from local and state officials, all persons present on the Chaminade campus are instructed to wear facial coverings and maintain social distancing. To this end, Chaminade’s student body of 1,700 was divided by year into three main locations on campus: the main building, the Dolan Family Science, Technology, and Research Center, and the Activity-Athletic Center. To provide an introductory experience to Chaminade that resembled some semblance of normal, the freshman and sophomore classes occupy the main building and attend in-person classes the entire day. For juniors and seniors, each grade has been divided into two sections – Crimson and Gold – that attend live classes in three core subjects in either the morning or afternoon and complete asynchronous assignments in the other three subjects daily. Yet, the development of this unique schedule was the result of the assistant principal office’s tireless dedication and a two day experimentation of the schedule. 

Classes for seniors have been held in the Activity-Athletic Center.

To satisfy parents’ and students’ adamant request for in-person instruction, Chaminade originally anticipated welcoming students back for full days of live instruction. To test this plan, all students returned on Thursday, September 11 and Friday, October 12. It quickly became apparent that the facilities couldn’t sufficiently accommodate the crowds of students and social distancing protocols. Over the weekend, faculty and staff modified schedules, resulting in the current plans aforementioned.

The sight of weightlifting equipment in the classroom is another stark reminder of these atypical times.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Chaminade has employed the highest standards of cleanliness and sanitation to ensure a safe, healthy campus environment. With the return of students, Chaminade expanded these procedures to include precautionary measures like staircases in one direction to limit bi-directional foot traffic patterns, bathroom capacity limitations, and temperature checks upon arrival to school. A full list of guidelines in the COVID-19 reopening plan can be found here

While most clubs haven’t been able to return to a full in-person experience, Chaminade has developed a comprehensive approach to reunite these communities. Some of the phase one clubs include Production Crew, the all-new Robotics Club, and the Culinary Club. These are all activities that thrive when students can be hands on with moderators and have become a reality even with all social distancing and sanitation protocols in place. As safety measures evolve and the school is able to determine that these clubs can meet safely, more and more clubs will be moved from Zoom to in-person. At Tarmac, writers and editors are able to meet in the Publications Center assuming occupancy doesn’t exceed 12 people. 

Some sports teams have adapted their usual practice routines to stay healthy and fit. The crew team has been holding outdoor practices on ergs.

For Chaminade’s population of athletes, the absence of a traditional high-energy start to a new season was melancholy. The cross country, crew, and soccer team have been able to practice with adjustments to typical routines, but games with spectators are banned for now due to the rules of the Nassau Suffolk Catholic High School Boys and Girls Athletic Association. While it is encouraging to see Flyers still out on the field training and practicing, the energy and excitement of games on Ott Field is missing. Chaminade’s own physical education class has facilitated games of Spikeball, KanJam, and cornhole instead of regular gym activities like handball, basketball, and swimming. 

To maintain good spirits and keep the faith alive, Chaminade’s Office of Campus Ministry has enabled Mass celebrations to continue by erecting a tent outdoors.

Since inviting students back to the campus for the first time since March, Chaminade has made it a focus to maintain faith. Over the course of two weeks of school, the Campus Ministry team and Production Crew have organized outdoor Masses for students to attend during their study hall periods. Pulling off 20 assemblies in such a short period of time was no easy feat, but the flexibility of the administration created a successful event for students and faculty. Each Mass hosted a couple classes from the same division in a socially distanced seating arrangement under a tent on Farber Field. Students were granted the gift to celebrate the sacrifice of our Lord in each other’s presence, and it was a great kickoff to our school year. 

Changes to the school year haven’t disrupted the enthusiasm and levity of Chaminade’s students and faculty. Mr. Gregory Bachmann, a new physics teacher, smiles jubilantly with two thumbs up for the camera.

Despite abnormality of circumstances, Chaminade High School’s commitment to ensuring an enriching, lively campus atmosphere persists. At the core of this goal is the school’s motto – Fortes in Unitate.