UCC’s Return – Q and A With Mr. Bardai

By Dima Kulakov

Last week, I interviewed Mr. Bardai about UCC’s restart, thus far. Below, are some of my questions, and those that other students asked (through our Instagram), and Mr. Bardai’s answers.

Q – Some students are falling behind during their “at home” learning days (because of difficulty hearing their teachers, etc.). What is the best way to combat this and catch up?

A – “At home learning is on the more challenging side.” The system is, understandably, not perfect, and certainly has its drawbacks. It is important for students to give feedback to teachers. They, like us, are entirely new to the current system and thus have to modify their lessons. Mr. Bardai insists that we give teachers feedback. Whether this is to move the camera, speak louder, etc., teachers want such comments, in order to make their lessons as effective and engaging as possible.
If a student is falling behind, it is important that they reach out to their advisor, the CFL, or their teachers to figure out a way to get back on track.

Q – For students interested in debating, acting, or any activities involving performance, what opportunities do they have at UCC during the pandemic?

A – Currently, students and faculty are working together to attempt to find ways to engage in such activities, online. For instance, the band is resuming online for this academic year. Additionally, with clubs starting up, students can participate in debating, improv, Model UN, and similar activities, through Brightspace.

Q – With the new semestered schedule, it can be more difficult, for some students, to finish homework on time. Previously, if students were busy on a particular evening, they could carry some homework over to the next day, and still submit it in time (since the same classes were repeated every other day). This is impossible now, however, as we have the same classes each day. What do you suggest a student does if they cannot finish their homework on time?

A – Time management is extremely important. Students still have the same amount of overall work. Additionally, during these times, most students have less extracurricular activities, and thus more time for school work. It is crucial to use spares (for Y11s and Y12s) to students’ advantages. If a student cannot finish their homework, for a legitimate reason, however, they should connect with their teacher, who will likely be willing to accommodate. Mr. Bardai adds that he is happy to meet with students who are struggling with time management.

Q – Are there any measures in place to stop students’ marks from suffering because of the new system this year (for instance, last year our marks could only improve, for new boys, their first semester can be disregarded if it doesn’t help their average, etc.)?

A – This is much more difficult this year since there is no baseline from which student’s marks can improve (except for Y12s). Last year, three quarters of the year was complete, in school, before online school began, so there was something to base future marks off of.
Additionally, this is a “different kind of normal”, one that students must get used to. For students facing adverse circumstances (i.e. if someone is stuck in another country, is sick, etc.), accommodations can be made.

Q – Because of the new club system, students can only sign up for one club per “group”. Therefore many smaller clubs are suffering. Will this system be modified at all to prevent this?

A – This was, in a way, inevitable, as what used to happen over 5 days, now happens over 2-3 (as students are only at school 2-3 days a week). Some ideas have been discussed, such as leaving a day for less popular/small clubs, and the school is certainly open to rethinking the current club schedule. Overall, it is important to provide feedback to Mr. Babits and the Clubs Committee, regarding improvements to the system.

Q – When things return to normal, how will UCC transition to a fully in-person learning system?

A – Regardless of the situation, we will stay with the semestered, 20-day schedule. However, we will switch to fully in-person learning (which can theoretically be done in an instant). However, it is likely that a hybrid model will be put into place, initially, where some grades transition to fully in-person learning before others. For instance, Y12s would return before Y11s, who would return before Y10s, etc. Mr. Bardai emphasized that this is not certain, just a possibility.