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Back to School 2020 — One Month Later

Update October 14: One high school student has tested positive. No modifications have been made for the rest of the school.

Well here we are, roughly one month after returning to school in September. This post will share the updates my school has made since the first day.

Physical Distancing. Last month, I shared that “The school’s plan states that ‘classes will be dismissed by room number — even or odd’. This did not happen. It’s still a free-for-all like previous years.” We still have not been dismissed by room number, and it is unlilkely that we ever will. I also shared that “We are given mask breaks between classes. They have told us to distance — and I follow it — but many students choose to form an unmasked gathering.” The school has limited the mask breaks to one area on campus, instead of the entire outdoor space. Due to this restriction, staff have been more lenient to larger gatherings, because all students outdoors — except for those in the designated mask break area — must wear a mask. Approximately two-thirds of students do not utilize the mask break. For most of us, this eight-minute period outside is just for us to stand outside. The school has no known plan for when winter comes and we are all freezing, due to pre-existing bans on sport coats and sweatshirts. Standard full-zip outer jackets remain allowed for now — but must be removed at all times indoors.

Bathrooms. Last month I shared that “‘Students will be required to observe physical distancing and capacity limitations in student restrooms.’ Nope.” Bathrooms have been quiet — mainly due to the fact that all students must use the bathroom during class time, and not during passing periods.

“Unit Zero”. Last month’s version: “I was told by one teacher that this is two classes. Either way — two or more classes — we have only been reminded to follow the one-way and wear a mask.” Unit Zero has ended, after two or three classes. No new reminders from the school.

Adjusted School Schedule. “‘Extra passing time has been added to the schedule so students can be spaced out more effectively as they transition from building to building”. We were given an extra four minutes, but this is spent as a mask break.”’ That extra four minutes is us being forced to stand outside, and not allowed to take our mask off — unless in the designated mask break area. Also part of that four minutes is now a staggered re-entry process. This process is just the assistant principal over a megaphone calling each grade one at a time, in random order. There are currently no known plans to change this process.

Hand Hygiene. “‘Students and faculty will follow a regular schedule of hand washing or use of hand sanitizer throughout the day.’ We were just told to sanitize. No schedule.” And we still don’t have a schedule to sanitize. The school treats us like adults and trusts us students to sanitize throughout the day.

I’ll see you around November 10 for the next update — sooner if we get kicked out.

Filmmaker, public speaker, and community leader in the Blackstone Valley region of Massachusetts.