Unvaccinated, 6th Graders Miss Out


As the Middle School begins to return back to normal with fewer restrictions, the rest of the Middle School still has to be separated from the 6th grade. Not only does the 6th graders’ not being able to get the vaccine to affect them, but it also affects the 7th and 8th grades. 6th graders are unable to do activities with the rest of the Middle school.
The 6th graders have been two steps back from the rest of the school for these few beginning weeks. They just got their lockers, while the 7th and 8th got theirs at the very beginning of the school year. They also may only sit four-to-a-table at lunch, so they can still have some distancing without their masks on. For the 6th graders, close exposure to COVID leads to a one-week quarantine, while the 7th and 8th graders get to stay at school if vaccinated. Even with a negative COVID test, 6th graders still have to stay home.
James Jessup, the 6th-grade boy’s Grade Chair and World Cultures teacher explains that his students are having a harder time bonding as a class. “One of the challenges is how do we bring everybody together,” says Jessup. “You have the 8th graders and 7th graders, you have that opportunity to have school assemblies and things like that; you can’t necessarily do it [with the 6th grade]. It’s challenging finding ways to even get the 6th grade together.” Jessup also says that COVID presents large challenges in getting to know his boys. “The biggest change is getting to that personal touch with seeing one another’s faces. One of my bigger challenges is learning who everybody is when all I see is eyes and eyebrows.”
As the 6th graders begin to reach age twelve, the restrictions will change and the separation will begin to die down. The hope for the year is to be able to do school-wide assemblies and for more of a connection between all the grades. As of right now, the 6th grade has only had seventeen students go virtual, and most of them were only virtual for a day, so the separation has been working in their favor.
Susan McMillian, the 6th-grade girl’s Grade Chair and musical theater teacher has large goals for her 6th-grade girls by the end of the year. McMillian hopes “that they feel comfortable and part of the community and that they can feel like they can handle everything.” Although the 6th graders have more challenges to face this year than the 7th and 8th, the hope is for them to still grow as students and become a part of the Westminster community.
With all the struggles we have faced in the past two years, the 6th grade and their separation will lead to a more successful year in the future.