Updates and Understanding: COVID-19 Mitigations

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A student wearing a mask has his temperature checked by a teacher before entering a school in Texas in July (photo courtesy AP Photo/LM Otero).

Ashdon Kice, Photo Manager

Throughout the school year, adaptations and mitigation strategies have adjusted how school functioned. Mitigation strategies have been developed and introduced to keep students safe during the school day. These include the morning temperature checks, one-way hallways, mask requirements, hourly desk sanitizations, and whatever distancing measures can be implemented. 

“We want to decrease how long people are in contact with each other and how many people they are in contact with,” said Laurie Brueckner, nurse. 

One of the least popular mitigation strategies has been the one-way hallways. This has caused for quite the travel distance between classes, following the three spiral paths that make up the school flow. Brueckner explained that “one-way hallways keep everybody going the same way, and keeps them from bumping into each other in a big mass.” 

Every precaution has been put into place for overall safety of students. Temperature checks keep the symptom-showing COVID patients out of school, and masks and sanitizing keep those who are asymptomatic from spreading the virus. 

“Masking is really the big thing. Decreasing how much respiratory droplets are in the air by masking, everybody is supposed to stay in their seat during class, decreasing how many people are interacting with each other. Everybody is supposed to be facing forward, again, decreasing interactions… Not everybody shows symptoms so we are doing our best to decrease exposure,” explained Brueckner.

As of Feb. 1, almost all of the high school students returned to SHHS to continue education in person. Since then, emails about positive cases and other updates have slowed to a halt. 

“Emails are still being sent out. What we have done is we have sent them out to parents instead of students. That has been a change, but our cases have dropped significantly. I think I have averaged one email per two weeks,” said Marc Williams, principal. 

Along with the drop in cases mitigation strategies are being revisited to increase class time for students. “We are revisiting our mitigation standards that we have. Johnson County Department [of Health and Environment] came out and said that transmission in hallways between class periods is extremely low. We still want to keep our one-way hallways, so we don’t have a criss-cross, but we feel like if we did waive the staggered schedule, we could increase the time in the classes…We have also been finding that students have been taking their own sweet time, about 12-15 minutes, to get from class to class. This could get them back into the classroom were they need to be,” Williams added. 

With decreasing cases and vaccines being released, some mitigation strategies are being investigated for effectiveness. According to the Johnson County official website the mask mandates have been extended through April 30. Three separate vaccines have been released for use and as of March 29, Kansas has moved into phase five of the vaccine distribution. Phase five allows all Kansans 16 and older to sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Information can be found here https://www.kansasvaccine.gov/160/Find-My-Vaccine. Using links in this website students and parents can find locations near them to be vaccinated. 

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