The school district and teachers have implemented many rules for student safety during COVID-19
Fear, panic and anxiety are just a few of the many feelings students could have about going to school during a global pandemic. For many this can cause worry and doubt about attending school, and can even drive some students to enroll into the online schooling. While other students continue to attend in person school with precautions. To reduce the risk of students catching COVID, many schools have mandatory procedures and precautions such as wearing masks. Some teachers have started to make rules of their own to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom.
Jeffersonville High School students have chosen from three options for learning during the 2020-2021 school year. The first of these options is the traditional learning provided by GCCS, in which students go to school five days a week for in-person classes. The second option provided is My School Online. In this option, students remain at home and continue to interact with Jeff High teachers via the internet. The third and final option provided by GCCS is their Virtual Academy program. This program costs $50 a semester and allows students to learn at their own pace via online communications with non- Jeffersonville High School teachers. On the GCCS website it states, “Whether students are attending school virtually or in person, Greater Clark has created challenging curriculum that will prepare them for tomorrow’s jobs and opportunities.” There are also some “hybrid” students, who attend some classes in person and other classes through My School Online.
Greater Clark County Schools, like many other school districts, has made the wearing of face masks mandatory in areas of the school in which it is difficult or impossible to social distance. Jeff High has also changed their cafeteria to allow for more distance between students while they eat by opening up hallways and areas of the gym so traditional students can enjoy a safe eating environment while they enjoy their lunch with friends.
The mandatory school rules aren’t the only thing changing, though. Justin Linde, a Jeff High English teacher, has also made changes. “The main thing that I’ve implemented in my classroom is to convert the classroom into a completely digital environment,¨ he says.
Jeff High science teacher Jessica Lacobee has digitized all of her work in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect both the students and herself from the virus. ¨I find that if students have a specific point in which they are all to walk to and turn something in it creates an unnecessary gathering,¨ she says. Lacobee also does not want the risk of an assignment turned in from a student to make its way home and spread to people outside of school grounds. ¨I want to avoid any contamination as far as me bringing it home to grade papers and the potential of anything being in my home,¨ she says.
Lacobee believes that running her class digitally is also easier as it partially negates the trouble of trying to run a digital and traditional classroom at the same time. “A lot of teachers were starting the school year with the idea that you could run a traditional classroom and an online classroom at the same time efficiently and I have found that that has not worked,” she says. While the experience has been a tough obstacle, Lacobee and many other teachers are finding ways around the problems COVID brings and teaching their students in a safe and efficient environment.
While teachers are doing their best to contain the pandemic, students appear to be trying to stop the spread rate of the virus as well. “I will say that by and large, the majority of students are adhering to the social distances rules pretty well,” Lacobee says. She also says that students have even taken to advocating and regulating mask wearing among their peers. “They [students] take it off or they pull it down to talk and then someone immediately jumps on them,” she says. She believes this is because students worry a lot about being quarantined and are ensuring their own safety. Linde says that he has noticed students keeping themselves safe. ¨I have observed students being very mindful of students using hand sanitizer, being safe, keeping their masks on, and being aware and taking the situation very seriously, even more so than their adult counterparts.¨
Written by Lily Hughes