COVID Safety

Nathan S, Columnist

This year there are a lot of changes in the daily life of students and teachers at Saint Robert. These changes were made to keep everyone safe and in school during this pandemic, but they do create extra hoops to jump through for teachers and students. Students have a lot to say about these new rules and procedures because they have to live by them everyday. 

Helen, an 8th grade student thinks that “[the procedures are] very smart and they still allow us to be in school but still keep us safe and still allow us to have an interactive education.” St Robert is one of the only schools in the area that is fully open in-person due to the situation with the virus.  The rules for keeping kids safe and minimizing the spread of the virus are liked in some ways and disliked in others. Mr Kierzek, the middle school science teacher, states, “I like that they were designed to keep us safe.” Mrs. Beckmann and the school safety team have closely studied and read reports shared by the North Shore Health Department, the CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics among others in order to create a reopening plan that would be effective.

While the new rules are necessary to keep the community safe, lots of students find them a burden and would enjoy having to live without them  each day. Harrison, an 8th grader, explains, “I personally dislike that I can’t see the other class.” In each grade level, students have been separated by homeroom or cohort, and they are not allowed to be within six feet of anyone from a different cohort than their own. Students miss talking to and being with friends in the other homeroom. The COVID restrictions are also hard because even during lunch and recess, which are times to socialize, students still can’t interact with the opposite cohort. Another negative impact of these new safety precautions, “is how long [the new procedures] take and it takes away time from faring in the classroom and it also makes it harder to teach the things we need to.” Transferring between classes can take awhile between students now having to sanitize the classroom, line up three to six feet apart, and waiting for there to be a spot in the hall traffic circle for the class to exit and head to the next class. Because of all these things, teaching time is lost and some projects get cut down because students need to have time to clean and line up. 

Furthermore,  Mr. Kierzek explains, “I think the hardest [rule] is that your limited by who you can sit by and we lose the ability to be creative, and people in my homeroom can’t be with the other homeroom …we lose the ability to work with a greater diversity of people and share our creative thoughts.” Usually, school is a place where kids can work together with their peers to solve problems that they may come across in the future. However, it is hard to be working alongside classmates as much these days, and students are mostly doing independent work. Because students are by themselves, they,  it’s now like they are trapped in their own personal bubbles.

 St Robert is going through many changes and some of them are how students need to be six feet away at all times and even in line, they need to spread out from each other. Even though these procedures aren’t fun, being away from each other is helpful because the virus is not able to spread easily when people don’t gather close together. Social distancing is key to keeping the school open and lessening the spread of the virus. Changes are also made on how the middle school transitions to different classes. Students follow a roundabout, trying to keep at least three feet apart and sanitizing in every class. This helps the differing cohorts stay separated because before this they would just go to class through the hall, stopping to socialize with people from every class. Again, students may not love the procedure, but it is another way of lessening the number of contacts in one given day. Recess also is different this year because now cohorts are kept in different squares and are distanced then too. Even at lunch, students sit a distance away from everyone to ensure that the virus does not spread too far. In fact, the gym is now being used as the lunch room too in order to spread out even further. One of the biggest changes this year is wearing a mask all day, which isn’t a problem for most students and helps prevent the virus from spreading from person to person. School is different this year, but the students of St. Robert will get used to it and follow the safety guidelines put in place to keep them safe and in school. 

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