Thomas Jefferson

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TJ Pupils Practice Protocols

Posted 11/17/2021 by David Lopez-Vences

TJ’s hallways are filled once again with returning students and their masks. photo by Roxanne Wilkerson 

The 2021-2022 school year has students reuniting in person after a year-long hiatus with new protocols in place. 

It’s no secret that the pandemic shut down everything in an instant. School activities such as sports, clubs, and everyday classes disappeared for a long time with no date to reinstate them. Luckily, during the 2020-2021 school year an in-person learning option was available for students who were struggling with virtual classes. This option consisted of many sets of rules that helped combat the chances of COVID-19 spreading:one-way hallways, mandatory masks, protective screens, and of course social distancing in every classroom. So what does the school look like now? 

To start, the process of entering the building has changed drastically. In the previous year, students had to complete an online health screening and then get their temperatures checked in order to be let into the school. Currently, students only need to have their TJ IDs and masks visible to be let into the building. On the other hand, guests and visitors can only enter the building when arranged. Assistant Principal Paula Hammel stated, “We don’t have parents coming in yet unless they’ve gone through a process with us. If anyone comes in for a class, say to be a guest speaker or what not, we actually ask for vaccinations and we’re allowed to do so through the district.” The reason behind the appointment based entry is for keeping records on who enters the building and who doesn’t. Melanie Scism, who is a part of the secretarial staff,  helps ensure that only students and scheduled visitors are entering the building with facial coverings on. When asked about the process, she helped clarify that “It’s an appointment that they[visitors/guests] either set up with a counselor or admin – they do that I believe for contact tracing purposes.” In case of any positive cases emerging, keeping track of who entered the building is essential in order to keep everybody safe. 

Inside the building, many of the key characteristics from the previous year’s in-person learning have shifted as well. One game changer is that every student has returned from virtual learning, meaning that every classroom is back to full occupancy. Before, the number of students who returned back to school was limited and social distancing measures were still at play. This meant that students were spaced out in every classroom. To add on, the one-way hallway systems have since been removed. Selected hallways were made to flow in one direction to help prevent too much traffic and contact between students. Besides these two measures, the last major protocol was the mandatory masks. The push for masks being on in the building is essential for the continuation of in-person learning. Although many students and all faculty are vaccinated, wearing masks still helps dwindle the chances of an outbreak within the school. Assistant Principal Jon Poole added, “The way we’ve been telling people is that it’s the same school you’ve always gone to, just with masks.”Throughout the school day it’s made apparent that masks always have to be visibly on, and when they’re not, they’re provided. Having every student and every member of the faculty have a facial covering is the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other variants. Poole stated, “You wouldn’t believe how many boxes of masks we go through every day.” Hand sanitizing stations can also be found all around the school. These, alongside daily sanitizing and cleanings of the building, really make certain that the school is safe for everyone in it. All of these protocols help students ease back into this school year without the worries of an outbreak occurring. As the year continues to move forward and the worries of COVID-19 disappear, students will one day be able to enter the building without wearing a mask.