The New Normal, WTA style.
Elspeth Dugdale | February 1, 2022
WTA is full to bursting. Excellent news, of course. The entire school population of students, staff & support staff (about 750 in total) is learning to work according to the SOPs as they are called – the Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Ministry of Education. So, what is this new normal?
Mask wearing is required, but in reality, it is difficult to enforce this 100% in a boarding school context, when students live together in such close proximity 24/7: they share dormitories, play sport, eat together, sit together and study together of course. In practice, masks are worn in an official capacity, by most teachers most of the time – and by many students, some of the time. It’s rather sporadic and sometimes very half-hearted.
Teachers don’t raise their voices at WTA, it’s not considered professional or necessary, so it was a rare occurrence to overhear this loud exclamation last week from a senior teacher to a reluctant S3 boy: “Stop wearing your mask as a necklace; put it on properly over your mouth and nose!” This, accompanied by the serious, pointing finger and ‘the teacher stare’ was enough to make the accused quickly readjust his mask.
Other mask-wearing styles include the headband version, the chin-warmer and the ‘in-pocket’ version. They are genuinely difficult to keep on all day in extreme heat and when in a packed classroom with 90 students for a double lesson, not to mention during an action-packed Sunday service, with 400 energetic students jumping up and down as they dance!
On the academic front, the new normal is the return to the Monday-Saturday timetable, designed to help students catch up on all the missed work. To add to this, the younger two classes, (S1 & S2) are on a completely new curriculum & different timetable to the rest of the school, but unsurprisingly everyone is muddling through. It’s all very complicated, but ‘somehow fine’.