Art, PE, Music and Science Change with Online Schooling, Pandemic

This school year, Dimond High School had to change the way its classes operated due to online schooling and the pandemic. 

Specifically, classes with subject areas like art, physical education, music and science had to fundamentally change the way they were run. 

For art classes, getting supplies to students was a priority since kids could not participate without any supplies. However, some students could not pick up supplies at regular drop-off times. 

Cullen Lickingteller, an art teacher at Dimond, said, “Kids couldn’t show up at certain times, so we just stayed here every night to give kids a chance to stop by and grab their supplies.”

Of course, some students ran out of their supplies and had to get more later on, and other kids just had bad luck.

Lickingteller said, “We had some of their animals eat their art supplies, and some of their little brothers and sisters broke their brushes. Everything that you can think of that could happen, happened.”

Before this quarter, all students were on Zoom during their art classes. This made it difficult for teachers to properly critique students’ artwork and give them feedback. 

Lickingteller said, “Zoom keeps them from asking a question that they might normally ask.”

There were also different kinds of art that had to be postponed this year because of complications with materials and resources available to kids at home.

Lickingteller said, “It’s impractical to do clay at all this year unless you’re in person, and then the jewelry was pretty tough because you had to put the jewelry kits together with all those tools and everything. There’s a lot of misery involved with setting everyone up with that, so it’s mostly 2-D art this year.”

Gym classes were a whole separate ordeal. Teachers had to think outside the box with how to get kids the exercise they signed up for. 

Carey Miknich, a PE teacher at Dimond, said, “I used a lot of YouTube stuff because then they could follow along, and then they could also see how YouTube has a lot of fitness stuff on there.”

Students filled out workout logs where they recorded their exercise habits for the week, but the question of kids being honest in these logs could not be answered definitively.

Miknich said, “I can’t supervise them doing the exercise, so I just have to be a lot more trusting of kids actually doing the exercise they’re putting on their logs.”

There were certain PE classes that were harder to teach online, like weight training. 

Miknich said, “I had to be more creative in how I taught weight training because we didn’t have any machines or anything like that, so they had to do a lot more projects where they did some research on their own.”

Music classes also had to change their tune, and choir was no exception. 

Andrea Gardner, a choir teacher at Dimond, said, “One of the things that makes choir so special is that there’s so much energy that comes from singing with other people. 

“An online class looked very different and felt very different both to the students and to myself.”

In a Zoom meeting, sounds do not sync together as they would in an actual classroom, so students had to keep themselves muted during practice. 

Gardner said, “Students at home heard a lot of my voice because I did a lot of singing for them and just hoped that they were also singing at their home, but I couldn’t always know.”

Even though some students are back at school in person this quarter, class has not returned to normal yet. Unlike academic classes, music has much stricter rules for students that have returned to Dimond.

Gardner said, “The fine arts department has a separate mitigation that’s different from the rest of the school. Because choir is a very respiratory event, singing creates an aerosol with the particles of your breath, and that’s something that spreads more easily.

“It’s been a concern that choir could be a major spreader of COVID, so we have stricter rules than our academic classes do.”

Both choir and band students can only practice for 30 minutes at a time before having to stop to air out the room, and both sets of students also have to be seated six to eight feet apart from each other, which is very different from how music classes are generally run. 

Dimond Freshman Kolter Kalt, who is a band student at Dimond, said, “We have to put this thing called PPO on our instruments. 

“It’s this thing you put on the end of your instrument so air doesn’t get out, and if you don’t have those, we have to put plastic bags on the outside of our instruments so air doesn’t get around to everyone else.” 

Like choir students, band students before this quarter had to stay muted during Zoom class. 

Kalt said, “We really didn’t get to hear all the other parts of the songs, which is no fun because when you play a piece, you like to hear all the parts instead of just one part. 

“So without all those other instruments playing with you, it didn’t really feel like band class.”

Students taking science classes this school year were met with a much different environment. Science experiments had to be done virtually, which took out the hands on approach that makes science class so interactive.

Kalt said, “It was annoying because you didn’t really get the full effect of doing it, which was irritating.”