Masks key to safe return of face to face learning


photo or infographic by Emily Meachen

MASKED UP. Meeting with the entire band before practicing all band members wore masks. The band met in the PAC to allow social distancing of the large group. Band is taking precautions to keep its members safe including designing a routine that keeps kids a safe six feet apart.

by Jesus Santana, VOW staff

Pencils, paper, backpack, Chromebook. 

Hand sanitizer, face shield, bleach wipes, masks.

The school supplies list will be a little altered when campus opens for a phase in of students next week. When the freshman and sophomores open the doors on September 25th, masks will be mandatory for all students, faculty and staff.

School administration and community members have been planning for a safe returning to campus for months. Campus health codes have been put in place to ensure the safety of all people on campus. 

“We have established a variety of protocols to create a clean and safe environment for our students and staff members,” Superintendent Tim Harkrider said. “We have worked throughout the summer with guidance from TEA to develop our Reopening Plan. We will evaluate the effectiveness of our plans daily and make adjustments when necessary”

The custodial staff has been working hard everyday, even with the pandemic, keeping the campus sanitized. 

“I have been very impressed with our custodial crew and how hard they have been working to clean our building every day,” College and Career Counselor Tricia Neumann said. “They are constantly at work sanitizing high traffic areas, our door knobs and putting procedures in place to more effectively clean our school.”

Teachers are very excited to have students back and cannot wait to see them back in their classrooms. Since August 3rd,  they have been working online and preparing digital work for students at home. They are ready for students to safely return to campus. 

MASKED CONTESTANT. During teacher in-service, Assistant Principal John Patterson asks math teacher James Boswell to guess the price of a prize during a Price is Right game featuring prizes from Assistant Principal Mike Reyna’s garage. All staff members have been required to wear mask since returning to campus August 3rd. (photo or infographic by Emily Meachen)

“Wearing a mask to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 is paramount as we try to proceed forward into our ‘new normal’ here at school,” U.S. History Teacher Whitney Taylor said. “I know that we all miss you guys and cannot wait to have you back on campus; however, it is important for students and staff to adhere to our health and safety guidelines this school year so we can protect each other as best as we can.”

Students also express their concerns. They know the real importance masks hold.

“I think mask are very important in school,” senior Olivia Bell said. “Say there is a student, who in their family has two high-risk family members at home, and they have to come to school. They are wearing their mask, but their friends are not. Those friends just made that student have a higher chance of bringing home COVID. We have to help protect each other in this world right now.”

A “phase in” is being put in place to ease students into completely returning to school on the 8th. Some students do not believe that it is the right time to reopen campus, but still plan to return with high regards for health precautions.

“Honestly I don’t think school should start back up until much later,” senior Aaron Johnston said. “I think that masks are extremely important for our health and safety, and if we have to go back, masks are the only way we’ll stave off infection.”

DANCING PRETTY AND SAFELY. During an afternoon practice sophomore Marlee Woolley wears a mask. The Sweethearts have been practicing social distancing and wearing masks since attending camp this summer. (photo or infographic by Emily Meachen)

Masks are a reality in today’s world, and many students understand that.

“It is strange to think that this is what is normal in today’s world,” senior Maddie Clark said. “I think masks are important because they really aid in stopping the spread of a global pandemic. The more people practice safe measurements, the faster the pandemic fizzles out.”

For guidance on how to minimize the spread of COVID-19, school officials have looked to the experts in the field. 

“In order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, it is imperative that we all do our part and wear a mask,” Principal Stephanie Hodgins said. “If we want to be able to maintain in-person learning, we must follow the recommendations set forth by the CDC, which includes wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.”