New Year, New Normal: CHS adapts to new protocols


Many events are resuming at CHS in the new school year, but protocols, such as wearing masks, are still in place.

Ella Lukowiak

For the first time since 2019, all CHS students were in the building for the first day of school. The COVID-19 pandemic has been punctuated by moments of hope such as this, and while the upcoming school year still has its uncertainties, the future is looking bright.

At CHS, in-person learning is almost essential to the educational experience, according to Principal James Gleason.

“I think that as a vocational, hands on-learning school…we learn best by doing. And if we are going to be doing, I think you [the students] really need to be in person,” Gleason said

Just as interactive CHS classes are more effective with in-person learning, the clubs and activities that are so integral to the school community function better with students in school as well.

For the past year and a half, CHS has experienced an absence of dances, Color Wars, in-person Lip Sync performances, and countless other events.

Junior Elle Mountford of Wall Township explained that because the pandemic hit in the late winter of her freshman year, she and her classmates have not had the opportunity to take part in a lot of key events.

“It’s disappointing that we missed out on many of CHS’s spring traditions for the past two years due to the pandemic,” Mountford said. “It is very important to the school and students so I hope it’s something we are able to participate in this year.”

Gleason agreed that events are essential to what makes CHS special, and that he is just as ready as the students to return to these traditions.

“Not having school activities, not having a Coffeehouse, not having dances has a serious impact on the school…If we are open full time, then we should be trying to do everything we can to reinstitute the activities that we had prior to closing down,” Gleason said.

In order to bring back all activities, the lunch period was reverted back to a one hour schedule in which all students are required to eat in the cafeteria. Juniors and seniors eat lunch first, from 10:30 to 10:50, followed by the freshmen and sophomores from 11:10 to11:30. The 20 minutes in-between are used not only as a cleaning period, but also as a time for clubs to meet.

“We are incorporating the best practices of what we’ve had in the past, academically and socially, for the school,” Gleason said.

Students also had a weight removed from their shoulders with the return of lockers for this school year. Gleason explained the thought process behind this change.

“I think what we’ve identified is that there is certainly less likelihood of the virus spreading through contact,” he said. “I think that was one of the things that we have a better understanding of…It’s more airborne opposed to surface spread.”

With this new knowledge, students are able to feel safer about attending school in-person this year.

Senior Aydin Gurudutt of Marlboro, who was fully virtual until the fourth marking period of last school year, said that he feels comfortable returning to CHS full time.

“Even when I wasn’t in-person it was less for my safety and more for my own convenience,” Gurudutt said. “With most people vaccinated there is significantly less to worry about.”

Although Gleason explained that teachers are not required to be vaccinated, there are other protocols in place for the unvaccinated staff.

“What the governor has said, and my understanding at this point, is that a teacher either needs to be vaccinated, or they need to be tested…once or twice weekly,” Gleason said.

Gleason also addressed the pushback against Governor Murphy’s mask mandate by surrounding districts and explained the MCVSD’s standpoint.

“I know that in the news you see different districts that are up in arms, or that they want to have options… Well, there are no options,” Gleason said. “They made a directive and that’s what we are going to follow.”

While things aren’t quite normal yet, both Gleason and students are hopeful for a year that looks a lot more like pre-pandemic CHS.