Safety precautions in place for a possible return to campus
December 15, 2020
Due to the COVID-19 crisis schools closed in March and have not opened since. The date that school can open has continued to be pushed back due to the rising cases in Riverside County. Schools were originally supposed to return to school on Nov. 30 as Riverside had moved forward into the red (substantial) tier; however cases rose and Riverside moved back into the purple (widespread) tier in early November. Once schools are able to reopen there will be many health and safety precautions put in place in order to protect students and staff members.
Even though there is no immediate date for regular students to return to school, the special education students came back on Dec. 7. They are having classes from the morning until 11:30 a.m. During phase one they will only be in-person two days a week, however come January phase two will begin for these students and they will start going back four days a week rather than two. Once they arrive they are “checked in” and have their temperatures checked. All of the desks are spaced six feet apart and there is one specific route that must be followed to and from each of the two classrooms. All staff who are interacting with students have a rolling plexiglass shield. Gloves, hand soap, and hand sanitizer will always be available, and in addition everyone is expected to wear a mask at all times.
“I can’t believe it. It’s been a roller coaster ride. One day we’re in, the next we’re not. I’m hopeful nothing changes and we’re full steam ahead. I can’t wait to see the kids! I’m so excited they’re coming back,” said special education teacher Angela Washington prior to the students’ return.
Even though it is uncertain when the remaining students will return to school, classrooms and schools are already set up with safety precautions. Once students arrive, they will walk through a temperature scanner that will scan everyone’s temperature to ensure no one is coming in with a fever. There is a designated route laid out by stickers around campus for students to take to classrooms that must be followed at all times.
Once inside the classrooms, students will take a seat at the desks, which are all spaced six feet apart. Since everyone needs to be spaced out to prevent the spread of the virus, schools will only be at 25% capacity when they first re-open. Each desk has a plexiglass shield around it to keep staff and students safe. At the end of the class period students will wipe down the shields around their desk to prepare for the next students coming in. Teachers will have a moving plexiglass shield that they can adjust as they move around the classroom. During lunch, students will eat outside and are required to stay six feet apart from each other. Lunch will take place anywhere outside, for example on the grass or at the picnic tables. Lunch distribution will be grab and go rather than the normal long lines of students while students in the virtual program can still come and pick up their lunches as well. Water fountains will no longer be used, instead they will be replaced with water bottle filling stations where students can fill their bottles with filtered water. The restrooms will continue to stay open and be frequently cleaned and the number of people will be limited to the number of sinks. Select classes such as the performing arts classes will take place outdoors, and performances will continue to be virtual until everyone is able to gather again. At the end of the day, students will take a designated route to leave the school. Information on sports and competition will be shared as more updates come in from the California Department of Health.
“It will look and feel very different, but I personally want very much to return to school. I miss the interaction with students, and the whole class discussions which aren’t the same in a distant learning environment,” said history teacher Scott Zyber.
Despite the fact the date for when students will be able to return to school is not determined, schools and classrooms are ready to go when students return.