Students and employees do their part to stay safe in school

On Thursday, September 24, all Bluefield schools went online due to growing cases and quarantined students in the bluefield area for two weeks. 

Before school went back in session, TCPS released the Fall Reopening Plan. In the plan, it said that if schools  were notified of positive employee or student cases they would make the county  remote in groups, instead of the whole county. For example, cases were mostly in the Bluefield area, so closing other areas wasn’t necessary. The plan also said if students were exposed, they would be required to go online for 10 days. Exposure is defined as being within 6 feet for 15 minutes of someone who has covid.     

TCPS also offered the opportunity of doing online school using Google Classroom. For the most part, in-person students submit their work through Google Classroom. In-person and online students do the same work at the same pace. The main difference is in-person students might have an easier time learning because they have the opportunity to have help in-person. “I think [in-person school] is dumb” Whitney Warburton (11) said. “We are doing online school at school.”

The school board has done detailed research and has worked really hard for students to be able to come back to school in person this fall. They have closely worked alongside the CDC and the health department throughout these past months. “I trust [the school board’s] research,” Mrs. Shilling, P.E. teacher, said. “But it’s just any other sickness; we can’t live in fear because if we do, it will affect the quality of our life.”

With COVID-19 still rampant in the area, having sports this year is still up in the air. The VHSL voted on a module that pushed fall sports back into the beginning of 2021 and winter sports starting at their normal time and spring sports being pushed back a bit to make room for fall sports. Along with the announcement of us going online for two weeks on September 24, TCPS also announced that all sports practices and conditionings were to be canceled until November 1. Having sports is really going to depend on the spread of COVID-19 and how well it is going to be contained.  “I think you should just stay home if you are sick and attend online” Rileigh Gibson (9) said. “I don’t want sports and other stuff to be canceled.”

The board has implemented county-wide rules and changes to keep us safe in school. In the hallways, students are encouraged to social distance and there is signage throughout the school that encourages social distancing as well.  Teachers sanitize each workstation thoroughly between each use and hand sanitizer is available everywhere.  All students and teachers are required to wear masks at all times when being 6 feet away from others isn’t possible due to space. At the beginning of the day, everyone’s temperature is checked as well.

This pandemic is all new to everyone. No one has ever gone to school when a pandemic was going on. There is no “How to Run a School During a Pandemic Book for Dummies.” It is all uncharted territory and the school board is taking one day at a time. There are things that the school needs to implement in order to have a safe school environment. said Lucy Hurley(11). “However, they can’t do these things because there is no good answer because it’s all new to us.”

The superintendent of TCPS, Dr. Chris Stacy promised everyone that he would be transparent with students, parents, and employees. He has come through with his promise by releasing statements when there is a change in cases in the county. He tells what area the student or employee was in, rather than what school. He does it to protect people and have confidentiality. “The board needs to notify what school has what cases instead of the area,” Lucy said. “I worry even if there’s no reason to worry. How can I know if it just generalizes to one area instead of specifically what school?”

Even though cases have spiked, things have gone smoothly. The school board has followed all protocols for working with the health department to contact trace. Teachers have enforced all regulations and students for the most part have obeyed them. “I think the approach to reopening school is fine,” Mr. Brown said. “Just as long as we keep doing what we are doing.”