The 2021 PSAT brings a brief hope in Back-to-School learning

Over 127 juniors stepped back onto campus for the 2021 Practice SAT (PSAT) on Tuesday, January 26, the largest batch of students to shortly return back to school since March of last year. While social distancing procedures remained strictly in-place for the duration of the testing, the turnout of students last Tuesday raised hopes for the potential of in-person sessions for both students and staff. 

“Having them here, fed the soul of the counselors and teachers who helped proctor the PSAT this morning,” principal Tamathy Larned said in a COVID-19 Items to note email sent to Spring Valley families and staff last Tuesday morning. 

Students taking the PSAT were divided among different testing locations, in addition to socially distanced desks and a mandated mask policy which was implemented for the entire duration of the test. As per public gathering events, the Center of Dicease Control (CDC) guidelines and Nevada mitigation measures announced by Governor Steve Sisolak, were taken into account for test day to maintain the safety of the students. 

“It’s our responsibility to maintain the cleanest but comfortable testing environment for students. Understanding the measures of safety is important for students to learn and get used to, even if we were to potentially come back to school,” 11th grade counselor John Tyler said. 

Approaching over nine months since the beginning of the quarantine lockdown and immediate shutdown of public gatherings, including schools, student’s short time back onto campus has renewed the experience of school days in normalcy. 

“It was kind of surreal. I mean it’s been almost a year since the last time I’ve stepped into the actual school. So seeing people, even if it just was a few, really reignited that feeling of school life, even if everything wasn’t entirely the same,” junior Ashton Antoci said. 

Majority of the students who attended, claimed that face-to-face interactions were rejoyceful, even if strict measures were enforced by staff. By respect of the CDC COVID-19 guidelines, testing staff promoted and administered students to enact interactions six feet apart and avoiding direct physical contact with others.

“I think it’s that factor of human interaction. I’ve been seeing [classmates] on screen for the past 6 months, but getting to actually meet them in person for a while is something I never knew I needed,” junior Kayden Furiguay said. 

The Clark County School District (CCSD) Board of Trustees discussed to continue this current school year as outlined in the Plan to Transition Hybrid Instruction Model presented to the board back in November 2020. Since then however, the board has voted unanimously to approve Superintendent Jesus Jara’s recommendation that schools invite individual or small groups of students back to campus on a voluntary basis. Services in which discuss the participation back to school include social-emotional wellness support groups and academic screening, interventions, and small-group instruction. 

“The plan to return entirely back to school is still a merkey subject, but one that I think shouldn’t be entirely ignored,” Tyler said. “At this time, providing support to students emotionally and socially remains the utmost important.”