October Forum: The logistics of returning to campus
November 5, 2020
Around 105 students and staff attended the second virtual Forum of the school year on Oct. 28. Here’s the rundown:
Tea Wagstaff started off the discussion by asking, “Which safety procedures will be in place if we go back to school?” Assistant Principal Celeste Barnette said, “Students will be provided with masks and that supply will be replenished frequently.” Teachers and staff members would also be required to wear masks and maintain six feet of distance from each other and from students.
Students also expressed concern about safety during passing periods. One person suggested there be longer passing periods or even a staggered release from class. This would ensure that the halls were clear and there were fewer people moving around at once. However, fears that if our 10-minute passing period was extended by five to 10 minutes, that students would just group together and not follow social distancing procedures.
Many students also expressed interest in discussing whether or not to maintain the ability to go off campus for lunch. Chris Kulick, a senior, said that he thinks that having fewer people on campus during lunch could create a safer environment for those who chose to stay on. A staff member responded by voicing the concern that not having students on campus could limit the control over social distancing.
Life Outside of School
Returning is such a complicated issue because the school has no real control of what students chose to do off-campus. Many staff members and students feel that returning is riskier if people don’t socially distance all of the time. In response to this, sophomore Jenna Wilson-Levin suggested that people returning to campus sign a waiver saying that they will be practicing social distancing all of the time even off-campus. This was followed by another suggested method of contact tracing, listing the names of people with whom one would spend time, in that same contract.
The schedule for back-to-school protocol is likely to look like 25% of students on campus each day on Monday through Thursday, with Friday online for 100% of students. Attendance and which students go back on certain days could depend on last names according to alphabetical order.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Once campuses reopen to all, returning to in-person learning will be optional for students, but teachers and staff are required to come back to campus for in-person instruction. Several students voiced concerns about the fairness of this requirement. Students were advised to voice their opinions to the School Board through email if the Forum didn’t provide all the necessary answers. More information about the School Board, as well as how to contact them, can be found on the district’s website.
Contribution by Karla Balderas
Full disclosure: Jenna Wilson-Levin is The Mustang’s Arts editor.
UPDATE: As of 10/30, Superintendent Robert Haley announced that the district would start welcoming back all students who opt for in-person learning beginning on Jan 4, 2021. Some specialized groups and staff members have already returned to campus.