Editor’s note: This interview with Dr. Blair was conducted prior to the announcement of the first confirmed COVID-19 case at Rider.
Dr. Cody Blair is entering his third year as the principal of Rider High School. This year is going to be very different from his last two because of the pandemic. The Rider Chronicle sat down with Dr. Blair to discuss how much Rider High School has changed.
Q: How has it been trying to adjust to coronavirus around school?
A: There have been quite a few adjustments, but overall the students and staff are doing really well. It feels really good to sort of get back to normal, and to get our students back on campus, not just in classrooms but getting to do the things they love. It has definitely been lots of adjustments, information and changes. Big picture we have been pleased with how the first four days of school have been.
Q: What are some of the struggles and successes in the school year so far?
A: Lots of successes, started the year with a great staff, we got to welcome our new class with freshman corral. Which was quite different from how we usually do it in the past. We had it at the stadium, our amazing Rider Band performed, along with the cheerleaders and a couple students groups. It was a really great night. We had senior sunrise on the first day of school, which was a lot of fun for the seniors. Everybody wore masks, that was awesome. Another success is that everyone is being real flexible and patient and getting used to the new procedures. One of the biggest struggles is just the amount of information that comes in every day. It is a struggle sometimes to shield our staff from feeling overwhelmed. We try to absorb everything so that they can focus on teaching students in classrooms. Also the struggle to get information out clearly, as timely and as efficiently.
Great night welcoming the class of 2024 at @RiderRaiders Freshman Corral! What a way to kick off the 60th year of S.H. Rider High School! #ROHOtogether2021 #RHSixty #OFOT @ROHOathletics @CoachBindel @riderband @RaiderettesRHS @WFISDschools pic.twitter.com/rXRElEFgjK
— Cody Blair, Ed.D. (@learningleader3) August 18, 2020
Q: How is everyone following the COVID procedures?
A: They are doing great. Students are doing outstanding. Just like everything, it’s new so we have to give reminders. It helps when we have 1,055 students on campus, instead of 1,500, so it helps that the numbers are smaller.
Q: What is the biggest hardship when dealing with the remote students?
A: Just some of the hardships are making those students feel connected and still feel a part of this school. We just want to keep doing our best and make them feel that way, but it’s hard with the distance. This is all brand new to all of us. So for the students and teachers alike, they are both still getting used to teaching and learning, for two different audiences. I am just so proud of our teachers for working hard to figure that out and be creative. I am also proud of our remote students, they have been very patient and flexible.
Q: Does it feel differently with 400 less people in the building?
A: It definitely does. It feels at times kind of empty which is sad, just because we are used to 1,500 students. When you think about that we are almost the size of a small town in one building. We really feel like we have our own family here, so it is definitely an adjustment. We are hoping at some point all of this will go away, so we can get all our students back on campus.
Q: How do you feel about getting into a new normalcy and starting school on time?
A: I was very grateful we got to start school on time. I talked to all the juniors and seniors, because the last five months have taught us not to take anything for granted. There are still a lot of school districts and states where cases are a lot higher and have more restrictions. We are grateful for the opportunity to start on time, to have school and have activities that the students love.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to say about this school year?
A: I can’t say enough about how proud I am of our staff and students so far. Even our parents with all the adjustments. Everyone is doing a great job, just have to keep doing it. Keep working hard and make it a great year.