Opening The Den

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As the dog days of summer dwindled down and became the crisp, cool mornings known as the signs of autumn’s imminence, it was only a matter of time before classic yellow buses navigated the streets lined with eager school-goers. For it was that time of year again, the annual return to school in Granby. Following a bizarre year headlined by unprecedented circumstances, one thought dominated the minds of optimistic students, parents, and teachers alike—Will this year be any different?

As it did last year, Granby Public Schools leadership continues to bring students together in its schools as the world endures the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, to last year, wearing of masks is non-negotiable and the 2021-22 school year is a strong example of how respecting and abiding by COVID protocols allows signs of normalcy return.

So, what is different about this year in the high school in contrast to last? Well, many of the practices that students and teachers viewed as tedious or inconvenient have, to the appreciation of many in the building, been done away with. This means that responsibilities such as disinfecting surfaces before and after classes as well as ensuring plexiglass shields are securely fastened to desks are no longer concerns for students. Lunch tables, which high school students from last year will remember boasted two chairs appropriately distanced, have been upgraded to include another seat. Social distancing protocols, a vital component to limiting the spread of COVID-19, has now been realigned to a three-foot distance among students.

As for what these new protocols have accomplished, they have created a highly satisfied student body. With features like larger gatherings at lunch and less distance required between people, the high school has witnessed an inclusive and social nature not completely realized last year due to the challenges posed by COVID.

In addition to the happiness of the student body at the high school, one of the largest improvements in contrast to last year has been the culture surrounding school sports at GMHS. While we did witness improvements during last year’s spring season, the recent weeks have brought unparalleled support: students packing The Den—the widely-used term for filling the student section of the high school bleachers. After limiting the number of fans allowed to attend games, and football not being granted the liberty of a season, the change met with massive appreciation and motivation to make this season one to remember for all sports.

When looking at all being done both at GMHS and across the entire district, it is easy to say that there were no challenges. However, that could not be farther from the truth. With the return to normalcy at GMHS, we must acknowledge the efforts put in by all the administrators, staff, and students to make such a successful year last year the foundation for an even stronger campaign this year. Without acknowledging the pandemic, taking the appropriate measures to remain safe, and making decisions guided by patience, there very well could be a much different perspective about the school climate at GMHS. But for students, teachers, and parents alike, this year is a sign of the transition back to normalcy.