Returning students face many changes


Kristin Gooding, Editor in Chief

When students return to campus for the first time since Spring Break, the building will look very different than it did in March.  Face to face learning begins Tuesday, Sept. 8 for students who chose the learning option.  

Many of the safety protocols will be obvious. Masks are required for students to enter the building where they will answer  screening questions related to COVID-19 and have a  temperature check. 

Face shields which provide an added layer of protection are not required at the moment. The face shields and masks will be provided by the district and distributed the first day during B5.

“Our goal is to set the expectation: You’re wearing your mask, and you’re following the rules that were put in place to keep people safe,” Assistant Principal Dr. Amber Holomshek said. “If kids break the rules there will be consequences. We’re going to be kind of stern on the ones that we can–like the masks. We have to be stern on that one because of the health of our students and staff.”

The hallways will also look different to students with the addition of dots and arrows.  The arrows point in the direction students should travel in the halls, and the large dots are in the center spaced six feet apart.  The stairwells will either be up or down marked by signs. 

“In the hallways, students will be required to walk on the right side, and then we have the circles in the center of the hallway for kids to keep in mind what six feet looks like,” Holomshek said.

In the bathrooms, some stalls and urinals will be roped off to maintain 50 percent capacity. 

“We are talking about shutting the restrooms down during the passing period so there is a little bit more control during the class period for the teacher to release kids one at a time to go to the restroom,” Holomshek said

Just like the rest of the building, the library will limit the number of students. Books will be in quarantine for 72 hours after they are returned, and a mobile cart of books can be checked out for teachers. 

Mustangs Read is a non-COVID addition this year during advisory.

“The whole school is being asked to read,” librarian LeRay Havard said.  “Students can read magazines, comic books, books, e-books, and audio books. We’re asking teachers to read as well.”

Social and Emotional Learning is another non-COVID addition during advisory that the counselors have developed for students and teachers.

Students will also notice a difference at lunch.  The cafeteria has plexiglass shields in between the tables as well as in the lunch lines. The lunch table seats have been marked off, so they can’t be used to insure social distancing.  Holomshek said the pizza line is moving to the annex to distance the lunch lines.   

In the halls, water fountains have been shut down except for the bottle filling stations, and everyone is encouraged to bring their own water bottle.

In classrooms, teachers have plexiglass shields around their desk, and classes are limited to 15 face to face learners. In between classes, teachers will be cleaning and wiping down desks prior to the next class entering.

“Not every desk will be used, but we’ll be able to spray down, clean and disinfect the desk the kid sat at in the previous period so that way when you sit down at a desk, it will have been sprayed during that passing period,” U.S. Government teacher Benjamin Baker said.

Teachers will teach both face to face students and online students at the same time this year, and that poses a lot of questions.

“Having a class that is a mix of face to face and online learners and learning how to divide my attention so no one is neglected is going to be a challenge for me,” English teacher Jordan Secor said. “I don’t want anyone to feel that they can’t get my help or my attention just because they’re on a screen.”

Nonetheless teachers have mixed feelings about students returning to campus.

“I’m excited to see my kids again,” Baker said. “I am nervous. Is the timing correct? Are we paying attention to everything we need to be paying attention to? I want it to be safe for them to come back.”

Face to face students are also ready to return due to struggles with online learning.

“Honestly, I’m all for going back to school, because right now many students are facing issues and struggles learning at home,” senior Conner Carroll said. 

Protocols are subject to change once students come back, as the administrative team determines what works and what doesn’t work in these uncertain times. 

“Saying it will go back to normal is a lovely thought, and eventually maybe it will,” Secor said.  “But we all have to work together and give our best effort if we are going to be here in person and do our best to stop this thing as best as we can.”