FDR Is Back!!!! An Interview With Ms. Katz


Matthew Grubin , Co-Editor

Welcome home Cougar Nation! This has been a stressful start to the year for most students. Transitioning from online learning, to fully in-person, has been a major adjustment. The New Dealer was lucky to get a chance to sit down with Ms. Katz and discuss the challenges the administration has faced adjusting to having all of our students and staff back in the building.

The New Dealer: What have been some of the challenges, transitioning from remote learning, back to in-person this year?

Mrs: Katz: “There have been various challenges transitioning from remote learning to in-person, some of those challenges include the physical setup for social distancing, looking at each room, each desk, and ensuring that students are properly spaced out in class. If you haven’t noticed as a student, there have been many changes around the school during the first week. This happened because we have to ensure that there are only the number of students in each room, in order to keep par with social distancing requirements. The administration, school aides, custodians and teachers worked very hard on this.

Health screenings were a challenge as well.  Many students were not used to the process, which made it more time consuming. However, as we get further into the year, more students are getting used to the process, which helps improve our school’s safety.

Another challenge, is that classes have been “quieter” recently, this is because in remote learning students were used to not speaking as often. When I walk around the school, there’s silence. To some people that’s a good school. To me, I would much prefer to be in a room, seeing kids gathered over tables safely, or arguing about an activity. You learn by speaking and interacting with the world around you.”

The New Dealer: Has crowd control been an issue the administration has stressed over the past couple of weeks?

Mrs. Katz: “FDR staff has been watching the releasing of students from the auditorium and cafeteria. We watch these areas very diligently, especially during the mornings, as it can get crowded. Near the elevator on the first floor, it can get very crowded. FDR is a big school with a lot of people. We are trying to ensure that people aren’t stuck in clumps and that everybody is moving. Crowd control has been a priority since day one for us. I’ve made several announcements over the past weeks, stressing to use any doors in the school, with the alarm off or on. I think FDR is doing a great job with crowd control, so far.”

The New Dealer: What are some goals that you have for FDR’s students this year?

Mrs. Katz: “My top goal is for students is to be safe this year, in order for them to learn and feel comfortable at FDR. I want our students to rebuild their skills, which help them learn best, such as discussing questions and activities. I would love for our students to start thinking about how they would like to learn, including their interests. Students should be more open about various issues in their lives and how we can approach helping them. A higher attendance rate is something that I would like to see from FDR students. Our attendance at FDR has been in the low 80s generally. Guidance counselors, parents, and teachers have been working very hard to address the issue of school attendance.”

The New Dealer: With many incoming students this year, it has been a challenge for them to get used to FDR and its environment. How has the administration dealt with this?

Mrs. Katz: “This year we have many incoming students, ninth graders and tenth graders. We had a glimpse of them during Orientation. Since we have many new students, our Social Studies classes gave tours of the building. Which gave the students an idea of the physical breakdown of FDR and its environment. Overall, the process has been smooth, usually underclassmen look to older students for guidance; however, many of our upperclassmen have also been out during COVID. Everyone is new to FDR to a certain extent, yet we are very lucky to be back.”

The New Dealer: Has there been any feedback from teachers, students, and parents on school currently?

Mrs. Katz: “One piece of feedback that I got from a student, is that school is much less chaotic than expected. On the first day, there were long lines for ID cards and Metrocards. After that, it got better. So far, the school year is going smoothly. There has been good feedback from teachers, they are happy with student mask wearing. No one outside of FDR believes me, when I tell them how wonderful students have been. Many of our families have been deeply affected by COVID, which is a big part of why we wear masks. Parents are happy that students are back with their teachers. Students are advocating for proper safety measures within the school- for there to be more soap in bathrooms, paper towels, sanitizers, etc. It shows how aware students are about what’s going on around them.”

The New Dealer: Wearing a mask is crucial to the safety of FDR students and mandatory, however, some students have not been following such directions. How has the administration dealt with this?

Mrs. Katz: “Some of the things we have done, include me announcing every day why we are wearing masks and thanking them for wearing masks. Basically, that’s how we keep each other safe. There is a specific ladder of referral if a student isn’t wearing a mask. Sometimes, you can be walking in the hallway and students have their noses showing. Teachers have usually spoken to these students, without yelling. We are trying to work with students about masks. So far, we have not seen a case where a student is completely disobeying the mask mandate.”

The New Dealer: Lastly, any message for Cougar nation?

Mrs. Katz: “Welcome home! I’m glad you’re back! The building needs you!

A special thanks to Ms. Katz for taking the time to meet with The New Dealer. We appreciate everything being done by the administration to make FDR as safe as possible.