We want to go back to school, but how?

Students%2C+staff+and+community+members+have+a+lot+of+questions+and+concerns+about+what+school+will+look+like+in+the+fall.+One+concern+is+how+to+keep+students+3-6+ft.+apart+in+a+classroom+setting+such+as+this.

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Students, staff and community members have a lot of questions and concerns about what school will look like in the fall. One concern is how to keep students 3-6 ft. apart in a classroom setting such as this.

As the days of summer pass, we get closer and closer until that first day back at school. No more online assignments, Zoom calls, or rolling out of bed at 12 pm to start your homework. 

Or at least that’s what we are hoping. 

Although the reopening of schools would come as a relief to many, there are still so many unanswered questions as to how the school could do so safely. When you first think of it, it may seem like throwing a mask on and stocking up on disinfectant would be all we need, but that just isn’t the case. 

As the conversation of going back to school continues among the school board and community, many questions, ideas and concerns all continue to arise.

The school board met on Tuesday, July 14 to discuss the various options of how we could return in the fall. There was also a community meeting on Tuesday, July 21 in the LHS gym to get feedback from parents, community members and teachers about the various options.  

Now that we’ve heard from the school board, district and school administrators, parents and community members, what about students?

The Lancer Spirit wanted to find out what LHS students think school should look like when we return in the fall, so we disseminated a poll on both Twitter and Instagram.

Below are the questions from the poll and a sampling of the answers we received from students.

*Student names have been omitted to protect their privacy. 

Infecting friends and family

Going back to school doesn’t just affect the student stepping into the building, if exposed to COVID-19 at school, families can be put at risk as well. This can be dangerous for family members with compromised immune systems or of an elderly age. The living conditions of each student can cause varying opinions on if the possible spread of COVID is a concern for them. 

Question: Are you concerned about infecting your family members? Are you concerned about being infected yourself?

Answers:

“I do not believe reopening school will be in the best interest of the people. My grandmother is 84 and diabetic, she lives with me. I know if we go back to school coronavirus will spread and even if I don’t get very sick I will have to live with the fact that I infected my grandmother. I am also very worried about some of the adults and older teachers getting it. Nobody knows what’s going on at home & who people live with, this is going to be hard.”

If I get infected my family gets infected so yes the number one priority would be me not getting infected”

“Not at all, I don’t want to live inside forever and ruin my education for this.”

“Yes, I’m very concerned about infecting members of my family. I’m more worried about giving it to them than catching it myself.”


Mental health and social distancing

The well-being of the students is a priority when deciding whether to reopen schools, but as seen from online school this past spring, it seemed as if mental health can be compromised when protecting physical health. From online learning, some students faced a decline in their mental health while others thrived.

Question: Are you concerned about your mental health if we went back to school? What about if we don’t go back?

Answers:

“I think it’s important to be in a social environment like a school atmosphere because everyone needs socialization, which helps people’s mental health. It’s also good to get out of the house, so people aren’t cooped up in their house all day.”

“My mental health was much better during remote learning.”

“I cannot go through more remote learning. It definitely made my mental health suffer.”

“I would have constant anxiety worrying about people I could potentially infect and kill if we went back to school.”


Ideas for the cafeteria and lunch line

Crowded lines, tables, and aisles. Masks are off, crumbs are falling, could lunch in our usual cafeteria really be safe? The school is already weighing options to make the lunchroom safer, but here are some ways students think may help.

Question: How could safety precautions be taken in situations such as the lunchroom when masks cannot be worn?

Answers:

“There’s not really a need for it, people are already eating in restaurants and the lunchroom isn’t too different from this.”

“Have tape or something else blocking kids from sitting right in front, behind, or beside them.”

“Allow outside lunch or just allow eating with no masks because herd immunity they can’t get it if everyone is safe. Also the obvious hand sanitizer stations and napkins. Also use more cards and have students swipe it themselves.”

“Keep everyone six feet apart and have less students in lunchrooms. I would not feel safe in a lunchroom like we had before.”


How to enforce social distancing

It’s hard to get students to follow the simplest of rules, such as no phones. Could a much bigger issue like social distancing truly be enforced? And if they can, how could the staff have students follow CDC guidelines in our school where spaces are commonly crowded?

Question: Do you think students will take social distancing seriously? What efforts could be made to maintain social distancing in crowded areas like hallways and the lobby?

Answers:

“Students won’t take it seriously, trust me. Enforcing will only upset the students.”

“Social distancing in the lobby would be impossible. It is always so crowded and I don’t think that it’s possible to keep students apart.”

“I think staff should monitor places like the lobby and hallways. Honestly, students might take it seriously but they might not.”

“I think it’s up to the students if they feel comfortable being close to people and if they don’t they can social distance themselves. I don’t think students will take social distancing seriously, because they want to be near their friends.”


How to deal with larger class sizes

Larger classes are common, there are plenty of classes throughout the day where every desk is filled. How could a class setting like this be safe and follow CDC guidelines? 

Question: In your opinion, how many students should be in a classroom at a time?

Answers:

“I think this all depends on how large the classroom is and how the CDC decides to proceed.”

“As many desks that can be 6 ft apart is how many students should be in a classroom.”

“No more than 20 students per classroom both for a more effective class and social distancing.”


School reopening and the custodians

Reopening our schools is going to be hard for everyone, especially custodians. During this time, should custodians be expected to do anything differently? Is it fair for them to be given so much extra work for a long period of time? 

Question: How much should custodians be responsible for regarding sanitization? Should more people be hired? Should current custodians be given a raise for doing more work?

Answers:

“I think custodians should do the best they can. More people should be hired. They will have a lot of extra work to do.”

“Custodians should add more intense sanitization into their after school cleaning routine and should receive a raise in exchange.”

“CUSTODIANS SHOULD GET A RAISE REGARDLESS. People are going to be expecting so much of them. They should only be expected to be responsible for sanitization if a raise is involved.


Sharing equipment

Teachers are known for being helpful and providing us with any tools needed for class. From calculators to pencils, so many objects are shared throughout a day. When going back to school, should students no longer be allowed to share items? Or should sanitation rules be put into place in order to continue sharing equipment?

Question: How could equipment that is typically shared be used? (materials such as cameras, cooking appliances, art supplies, calculators, pencils, etc.)

Answers:

“After every class, have that person sanitize and clean them.”

“Clean everything before and after use. Then after the students are done an adult should be in-charge of disinfecting the equipment again.”

“We need to go back to school. The additional effort of sanitizing for this would be enormous, but I’m just concerned about people not being thorough enough when cleaning if we left it to the students.”


Add your voice to the conversation

Please use the comments section below to share your opinions on this topic.

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