As the craziness of the 2020-2021 school year winds down, in-person students prepare to say a summer’s farewell to HCPS’ extensive COVID mitigation procedures. Between the “sneeze guards” on desks, countless packages of sanitizing wipes, one-way hallways, and new sign out procedures, HCPS and Freeman spent valuable time and money to safely return students to the school building.
As the nation begins to return to a sense of pre-pandemic normalcy in the coming months, students question what our schools will look like next fall. Below, students and myself weigh in on the county’s efforts to keep us safe and healthy, and predictions on what precautions will remain in place for next school year.
Plastic Desk Shields, A.K.A. “Sneeze Guards”
Probably the most noticeable thing about the return to school has been the hunky plastic on each desk. While certainly well-intended, I think most of us can agree that they likely provided little benefit. The distance between the student and the plastic as well as the fact that most of us enjoy lounging back in our chairs essentially defeats its purpose.
“In terms of ‘sneeze guards,’ […] I really hope that it rights itself by next year,” said junior Morgan Louria.
I agree that these plastic particle protectors that seem to more restrict our desk space than whatever else they’re directed at will hopefully be a thing of the past next school year.
Wiping Down Desks
What initially seemed like a great idea was quickly reduced to a chore when the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the likelihood of COVID spreading through touch was very low.
Morgan “feel[s] like when people are on their honor to clear surfaces, some of them don’t comply.” But, junior Walker Beck feels that “it is smart to have more hand sanitizer and wipes around the school for students who like them.”
As a result of classes running long and growing confidence that someone along the line has wiped down the desk for me, the process of sanitizing desks has slowly faded away in my book. I think that being asked to wipe down the desks before and after class won’t be as heavily stressed next fall, but I imagine the Rico sanitizing wipes will be around for a while, at least until the country runs out of them.
Initially an inconvenience to class transition, the new one way hallway system has become something I’ve gotten used to. I can even say I seriously enjoy the longer walk between classes. Why sit in class for an extra two minutes when you could be getting in some steps and catching a breath of fresh air as you traverse our concrete “quad.”
But as expected, opinions are mixed on the topic. “The teachers have been lenient with people [being late to class…] but that doesn’t make loops around the school to get to a class that’s next-door any easier,” Morgan said.
While I don’t mind it, I see the one way hallway system disappearing with the easing of social distancing restrictions. Following suit with the plastic on desks and hand wipes, don’t hold your breath about this being around next year.
Never liked it, never will. I can’t wait to not have to wait to use the bathroom and lax enforcement of the no-fly zone. Oh, and using the bathroom on transitions too. I think teachers will support me on this one. We might see a form of this stick around, but for the most part, I think we leave this in the past.
While we may not all love each of the many measures taken by Freeman and HCPS to keep us safe, I think that most of us can agree with Walker in “hope[ing] it’s back to pre-pandemic normalcy,” next year.