New year new rules

Procedures are changing for staff, students this school year due to the pandemic

New year new rules

You enter the school, the front entrance is filled with a strange silence, and it’s almost empty, everybody rushing directly to their first hour where the smell of rubbing alcohol fills your nose. You sit down at your desk that’s been assigned according to social distancing procedures, and it’s slick with sanitizer.

This school year has been turned upside down due to the pandemic. Class ends early so teachers can sanitize the desks, everyone hides the bottom half of their faces behind masks, and there are four lunches. There are many procedural changes for the students, but also many for the staff as well, like nurses and custodians.

For the staff, new nurse Lindsey Murphy is dealing with many of those changes in her very own office. Increased sanitation of everything in her office, a decrease in the number of beds available as well as the chairs.

“It does make it tricky because we do have to clean a lot more frequently, especially the high touch surfaces like door handles, countertops, things like that. We are trying to keep everyone at least six feet apart so I can usually use about two of the beds if people need to lay down,” Murphy said.

This year, according to Head Custodian Gary Johnson, custodians are far more concerned with the sanitation than with vacuuming floors and other such things. Despite the teachers wiping down the desks with Bioesque between classes, the custodians have to wipe over them again as well as other high touch areas and surfaces.

Procedures in the nurse’s office change even more if a student who is showing symptoms arrives. Murphy has to put on protective gear and place the students into isolation rooms right away, and once they leave, everything has to be sanitized.

“So, if somebody has possible symptoms, I would put on a gown, gloves, my face mask, a shield, and goggles. Just to keep me completely protected from anything, if they were to cough and it would come out of their mask, or if they would have any other symptoms Murphy said.

According to  Johnson, when a positive case occurs, the custodians use sprayers that they are able to carry like a back-pack and disinfect the whole room using the fine mist of Bioeque that comes out of the end of the sprayer.

With teachers trying to keep students in the classroom, fewer people are sent to the nurse’s office this year. 

“We’re seeing a lot fewer students here in the office. I think teachers are trying to keep more students in the classroom as much as possible and I think that students want to, kind of, stay there as much as possible,” Murphy said.

Within home learning through Zoom, more of the at-risk students are at home. The people who would be visiting the nurse’s office more regularly, are now not in attendance in person.

“Also, we’ve noticed that a lot of the kids who do have underlying diseases are mostly our remote learners this year. So ones that would have been coming in more frequently or that we would see day to day, are at home learning because of their illnesses,” Murphy said.

While many things are changing this year for students and staff, people are hopeful the coming year can go as smoothly and safely as possible.