Finals during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Sophomore Taylor Redington works on her finals remotely during the school day of Nov. 5.

Eris Rindt, Reporter

On Nov. 4 the Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed a COVID-19 cluster present at Newton High School. During this same week students were wrapping up the semester by taking their end of the quarter tests otherwise known as finals. This year has been very different regarding finals because typically finals are taken in mid December but due to the new four by four schedule this year they were taken in early November. 

Nine weeks have passed since the late start of the school year and a highly debated topic amongst teachers recently was whether or not to hold finals. Most prominently due to circumstances surrounding the pandemic. Social studies teacher Elizabeth Gunn decided to proceed with giving her students a final test. Gunn says that finals are important for students to find strategies for how they best learn in order to succeed in future endeavors. With the altered school day schedule, Gunn says that she has been able to grade tests faster than in previous years. 

“Having finals helps [students] really zero in on what study techniques and habits that best fit [their] individual learning styles. For those students who go on with higher learning, knowing what works best for them will be crucial for success,” Gunn said. “Finding out now is better than waiting until [college], when they are paying for the credits/classes.”

Many students express that they have faced major struggles during this unusual quarter. The constant change between hybrid, onsite and remote learning has proved detrimental in many cases. Sophomore Taylor Redington says that in her opinion students would benefit from grades being official later in the semester.

“[Personally,] I am able to keep a steady grade almost all year but I [know many] students would benefit from grades being put on the transcript later,” Redington said. “I have faced minor issues with my internet but I was able to talk it out with my teachers. My biggest struggle is getting all the work done and things studied in the short amount of time.”

Mathematics teacher Keri Unruh decided it was not a good time to give her students a final. Unruh is aware of the many challenges that accompany final tests, so she hopes making the decision to not have a final helped her students be less stressed during these unprecedented times.

“I think with this year that we are living, we have to learn to be flexible, try new things and be more understanding of students and teacher perspectives,” Unruh said. “Deciding not to have a final is okay, and adapting and figuring out things is just a part of meeting the challenge. I also didn’t give a final so that students could feel a little breathing room to catch up.”

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