Protocols, procedures and plans

Students+work+independently+in+an+English+course.+Each+student+is+wearing+a+mask+as+a+way+to+follow+Chapman%27s+safety+protocol.+

Alex Hollis

Students work independently in an English course. Each student is wearing a mask as a way to follow Chapman’s safety protocol.

Elizabeth Franklin, Editor

With the opening of schools amidst the spread of COVID-19, a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, many safety protocols have gone into effect to protect both students and staff. 

Since schools closed mid-March, questions have been raised about the upcoming school year, and as COVID-19 cases continued to appear, it became more and more likely that in-person classes wouldn’t happen. However, a hybrid schedule was offered, albeit with some restrictions. 

“We’ve had a good plan,” Principal Andrew McMillan said. “The time in March, after the first couple of weeks, we turned our attention to, ‘How can we get back?’” 

There were concerns from the start, from students and staff with underlying conditions to what would happen if a student were to get sick. District personnel and administrators spent the summer creating a plan to get students back into the building as safely as possible. 

“We went through our day-to-day plan, from bell-to-bell,” McMillan said. “The plan really came together about two weeks before students came because the coronavirus changes every day.”

The plan for returning has had to adjust as new information arose about the coronavirus. At first, the concern was the virus living on surfaces but then changed to being airborne and having to wear masks to finally needing to stay six feet away from other people. 

However, procedures, protocols and plans aren’t effective unless they’re followed. 

“If we’re taking proper precautions, then there’s no problem with coming back,” senior Tristian Lewis said. “The challenge is getting everyone to follow those protocols.”

McMillan does believe that people at Chapman are doing a good job with those protocols. 

“I think we’re doing everything really well,” McMillan said. “Teachers have done a good job about making sure students know that properly wearing a mask means wearing it over your mouth and nose.” 

While students have been good about wearing masks, staying six feet apart has been a problem area. For example, in the past, the cafeteria has been a place for students to take a break and take their minds off schoolwork, but now everyone has to stay six feet apart, and it’s harder to just relax and hang out with friends. 

While there are still lots of students attending in-person classes, District One created the Online Academy for students who wished to take online classes instead. 

“The Online Academy is now the biggest school in the district,” McMillan said. “It’s been a big undertaking. Every single student who was scheduled for Chapman and signed up for the Online Academy had to be hand-scheduled to make sure they got what classes they were supposed to get.” 

Considering the differences between online and in-person students, the student population was clearly split on whether or not they wanted to come back to school, but based on surveys, a majority of faculty and staff were in favor of returning.

“On our teachers’ first day back, we went through what our plan was going to be, and I think after that meeting, people felt safe,” McMillan said. “Once people started feeling better about it, we got this momentum.”

Although the pandemic creates uncertainty, school is a source of stability for students: a safe place to come to, away from any home problems; a schedule to follow; friends who support one another. The problem was trying to find a way to keep this safe place safe. 

“Our kids and staff have responded really well, but nobody has any answers about how long this is going to go on,” McMillan said. “We’re working really hard to give our students the best high school experience that we can with limited time.”

Staff is trying to keep this year as normal as possible, but COVID-19 has changed nearly everything. 

“(COVID-19) took away a lot of opportunities to make memories,” Lewis said. “It’s made our senior year different from any other senior class’s.”