Memorable year comes to end with normalcy on horizon

This story was originally published in the sixth edition of The Lion’s Tale (May 5, 2021).

One of the most unique and memorable school years in Oviedo High School (OHS) history is coming to an end.

When we returned to campus in August after a five month, pandemic-induced hiatus, we were met with numerous changes and uncertainties regarding what lay ahead.

Many face-to-face classes were smaller as students opted to learn at home through Seminole Connect and Seminole County Virtual School, with the former forcing teachers to make significant adaptations to their teaching styles. Face shields and masks, and, when possible, social distancing, became the norm on campus. Perhaps the biggest changes were to the structure of the day itself. OHS moved to a block schedule for the year, and a third lunch was added, including new outside seating along with it.

Attendance was limited at sporting and other events, with ticket sales largely moving to the GoFan platform.

All the while, events of great consequence occurred in our country and world; we reported on the reactions of students and teachers and the local impact of many of them. Joe Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump in a historic presidential election in November, and Trump supporters violently attacked the Capitol in an attempt to overturn that result in January.

Of course, new developments arose in regard to the pandemic throughout this time, including highs in case numbers and the production and distribution of multiple vaccines against the coronavirus.

Our school saw its fair share of quarantined students and Covid-19 cases- 90 to be precise, the third highest number of any school in the county. That being said, OHS largely avoided any major disruption to its daily operations, something that can’t be said for every school in the region or state.

Conditions have certainly improved since this time last year, as both in-person graduations and AP testing are being held.

The beginning of the next academic year will further see a gradual return to normalcy as vaccination rates continue to rise. Seminole Connect is being discontinued, and the number of students enrolled in Seminole County and Florida Virtual Schools will presumably also drop. Teachers with heightened vulnerability to the virus will be able to return to campus as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already relaxed its guidelines for social distancing in schools from six to three feet between students in areas with low virus transmission.

Many of this edition’s stories will be reflective in nature, including the “year-in-review” for sports and a story on retiring teachers. We’ll also report on ambiguity in the county’s guidelines for reporting sexual harassment and assault as well as the opening of vaccine availability to  16- 18 year olds. Our final center spread of the year will honor the top ten in the senior class by weighted grade point average, as has been tradition.

The Lion’s Tale would like to congratulate the class of 2021 on their graduation and all their accomplishments at Oviedo High School over the past four years. Furthermore, we would like to wish a happy and relaxing summer vacation to all.