As Circumstances Change, Upper St. Clair High School Re-evaluates its Educational Model


Julia Roeschenthaler, Staff Writer

With 2020 being the unpredictable year that it has been thus far, it is no surprise that after only six days of in-person school, Upper St. Clair High School has returned to completely virtual learning. While the change is most likely temporary, with the two day hybrid model set to resume on December 7th, continuous changes in regard to coronavirus cases and exposure have demanded the closure of the high school out of concern for student and staff health. Indeed, many students voiced their concerns regarding the return to the four day model, especially with the increase in Covid-19 cases. 

One student, a junior who participated in the hybrid model as well as the four day model, expressed her view that “the push to four days a week felt a little rushed,” and reaffirmed that the hybrid model had appeared to be working incredibly well for students and staff alike. Indeed, a number of students described the hybrid model as being incredibly helpful in regard to providing a balance of both in-person and remote instruction, and they stated that it was especially effective in regard to social distancing in school. 

One freshman shared a slightly different view, stating that he liked the four day model  because it allowed him to see more of his friends and interact with a larger group of students. He also explained that four day school did not feel incredibly different from hybrid, and therefore he was not opposed to either model. Many students expressed their pleasure in being able to see a larger percentage of their classmates in person, as the hybrid model is structured in a manner that only allows a small amount of students to be in a classroom for each in-person rotation. A variety of students shared that they felt as though the hybrid structure made it more difficult to determine who was in each of their classes, and therefore that the four day model helped to address this issue. 

The switch from the hybrid model to the four day model did not just effect in-person students, however. One junior, who has participated in remote learning since the beginning of the year, shared her view regarding the impact of the four day model on remote learners. She stated that the transition did not significantly alter remote instruction, but it did make it more difficult for remote learners to engage with their in-person classmates, which caused classes to feel less interactive. However, she reaffirmed that regardless of the decrease in remote and in-person student interaction, teachers “still did a good job of including us [remote learrners] in class activities.” It is evident that regardless of the model in place at the time, teachers will continue to try their best to cater to in-person and virtual students alike, and therefore help to keep class activities engaging for all those involved. 

Similarly, it is clear that the district will continue to reassess the state of instruction as circumstances shift in regard to the pandemic, and will enact changes when necessary to protect the health of staff, students, and their families. It is also evident that the district values student feedback to a significant degree when assessing their decisions in regard to instruction, as demonstrated by the recent focus group organized with the intent of receiving student feedback on the various educational models. Regardless of the unique circumstances that arise during the year of 2020, the Upper St. Clair school district has demonstrated that it will continue to shape its approach to education with the goal of doing what’s best for students, staff, and their families. 


Editor’s note – Since this story was written the high school has returned to the original hybrid model for all students and the option for full time remote learning to any student.