Despite COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in Missouri, CHS, as well as Wydown Middle School, returned to in-person learning on Monday, Nov. 9. Students were given two options. The school’s in-person schedule consists of a morning session and an afternoon session. Students whose last name begins with A-L attend school five days a week from 8:10am-11:25am. Teachers have time to eat their lunch from 11:30-12:00pm. Students whose last name begins with M-Z attend school five days a week from 12:05pm-3:20pm. The school day consists of four 45 minute class periods. On A-days, students attend periods 1-4. On B-days, students attend periods 5-8. The other option for students was to stay online beginning Nov. 9. Students who chose this option log in via zoom while the in-person class is in session.
There are many changes to the school day as well as safety procedures put in place to protect the health of teachers, students, and staff. Students may enter the school building no more than 15 minutes prior to the start of their first class, and they must enter the building through the door closest to their class and go straight to class upon entry. Face coverings are required inside the building and social distancing is enforced. Inside classrooms, desks are spaced at least 6 feet apart and are sprayed with sanitizing spray between each class. Students are encouraged to use hand sanitizer when entering and exiting each classroom.
If a student has a study period, they must report to either the commons or the library and sit in an assigned seat for the entirety of the period, unless their parent has released them from this period, in which case the student must leave campus. After the first week, it seems as though the district is taking safety precautions seriously.
“Although I have misgivings about in-person attendance during our current surge in local COVID transmissions (currently at 79 new daily cases / 100,000 population — over 3x the ‘tipping point: stay-at-home orders necessary’ level, I think our protocols at CHS are pretty good,” said CHS science teacher Chuck Collis. Each person-from what I have observed-wears their mask correctly nearly all the time. Social distancing is being maintained and enforced, although the hallways seem to sometimes get a bit more crowded than they should. “With something like 25% of our students electing to learn from home and the rest broken up between a morning shift and an afternoon shift, overall student density in the building is pretty low,” said Collis.
Although students and some teachers interact with a relatively low amount of other students, some teachers come in contact with many more, between both their morning and afternoon classes. “I know some teachers have higher student numbers during some classes and imagine that traditionally crowded areas of the building may not have low student density during passing periods,” said Collis.
The thoughts and experiences of students who have been learning in person are mixed.