BY AUSTIN RUFF
Hays High students returned to class last month, signaling a transition to normalcy, while also igniting COVID-19-related fears for the safety of students and faculty at the school. Tiger Media Network, along with several other students from FHSU, toured Hays High and viewed some of the changes that have been made to ensure safety on all levels.
The wearing of masks is compulsory, per USD 489 policy. Principal Martin Straub says it is important everyone adheres to the policy.
“We stressed to the students the importance of the masks in keeping us in school, and they have been really understanding and compliant in wearing them,” he said.
Signs are posted throughout the building reminding students to wear their masks and keep six feet apart when possible. Before entering the building, automatic machines dispense hand sanitizer in the entryway for all students and visitors. Temperatures are then taken, the measurement being written next to your name on the sign-in sheet.
The tour included a number of classrooms, which displayed several of the school’s approaches to combating the spread of the virus. In rooms where students share desks, clear, plexiglass shields are placed in order to prevent transmission from students sitting at the same table.
In classrooms big enough to allow for it, desks are spaced far enough apart so that glass shields are not needed. However, Straub stressed the impracticality of spacing in certain classrooms.
“Some of our rooms just aren’t big enough to implement social distancing,” he said.
Although such measures cannot be put in place, strong sanitization and cleaning is regular.
The implementation of increased lunch periods allows for fewer students to be present in the cafeteria during mealtime. There are 19 lunch periods from 11:45 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. that mitigate the continuous flow of students throughout lunch. The number of students at any given table has been limited to five, and students may sit in the designated outdoor areas as well. Students who do not feel comfortable eating with others, may choose from several tables which face the walls.
In areas such as the library, services like the drink and snack shop have been shuddered due to the pandemic. Seating has been reduced throughout the library, and the total number of available books has decreased.
Disinfection of classrooms, doors, and other areas takes place throughout the day and after school. Custodians carry jugs of pressurized disinfectant, which is then applied to the various surfaces.
Although there have been several quarantines and cases reported at Hays High, Straub said, “I am confident through the continued cooperation and diligence of students, faculty, and the community, we will be able to keep our doors open.”