By Sammie Cohen
OBHS reopened in early September with new safety protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools in the district reopened for in-person learning for the first time since March when New York implemented statewide rules and lockdown measures. Some of the new protocols at OBHS include maintaining six feet of social distance, wearing masks, participating in temperature checks, and using desk guards.
Over the summer, a reopening committee, which included parents and administrators, was formed. The committee worked together to generate the best plan for reopening schools safely. The plan implements changes that meet CDC guidelines, which align with Governor Cuomo’s state guidelines.
The plan called for middle level students to attend school every day, while students in grades 9-12 participate in a hybrid schedule, attending in person only every other day. Students are designated by their last names into two groups, A-L and M-Z. When students are home, they are required to attend school remotely via Zoom and/or Google Meet with the other half of their class.
Desk guards, one of the new measures put in place at the high school, are retrieved when students enter the building. Students carry their desk guards with them from class to class until the end of the day, when they leave the guards in their 9th period classrooms.
Due to social distancing requirements, classroom desks are staggered six feet apart throughout the classrooms, and students and staff are required to wear masks. The staircases and hallways have clear one-way signs in order to prevent crowding.
Kaitlyn Aasheim, a junior at OBHS, said, “I think it’s a good thing that we are back in school, and I think our school has good protocols. Wearing masks and carrying desk shields can be annoying at times, but the most important thing is keeping everyone safe. I think that’s what is best.”
The district also provided students with devices at the start of the year, allowing for mostly paperless instruction. Going paperless prevents the spread of germs and ensures students don’t have to carry too much throughout the day. Some students enjoy paperless lessons, while others prefer handouts and books over online instruction.
Grace Barrios, another 11th grader at OBHS, shared her opinion on OBHS going paperless. “The adjustment to hybrid learning causes a lot of stress in my life. The constant switching and technological difficulties make learning harder. Teachers were not always very lenient, even in the beginning. I still have not fully adjusted, and I’m still trying to figure out what techniques work for me,” Barrios said.
Junior Kaitlyn Kelly adds, “I think the desk guards are good, and they are helping keep students safe; however, going back and forth from in-person and virtual learning has become very stressful with having to keep track of everything.”
Overall, the district's reopening has been successful. The virus has remained contained, with only a small number of cases in the community. The district recently allowed seniors to return full time, with the goal of eventually having all students back in the building five days a week.