New guidelines assist in-person learning safety

Seniors and freshmen return to school on March 2

Seniors and freshmen who chose in-person returned to school on March 2, a week earlier than sophomores and juniors, who are scheduled to come back on March 8. School administrators set up new safety protocols for students to follow in an effort to reduce COVID-19 spread while instructing students in-person. 

During arrival, doors open at 8 a.m., and students may enter through Door 1 and the Rock Entrance. Rules require students to wear a double layered mask and socially distance throughout the day. 

Each classroom will be supplied with cleaning supplies, including Virex, paper towels and hand sanitizer. Students are also encouraged to bring personal wipes to disinfect their desks before and after use. 

“The mitigation strategies are pretty strict. The desks are definitely all six-feet apart,” math teacher Ginnie Quarry said. “They’ve replaced our air filter. There’s bottles of hand sanitizers everywhere. We’re doing everything that we can [to keep students and staff safe].”

On the first day of class on March 2, students and teachers were excited to be back in the building; however, most McLean students selected all-virtual learning. 

“I had six students in my 2nd period and two students in 3rd period,” senior Chris Kang said. “It feels very safe that there are so few people there.”

To limit transit between classes, students will remain in their 2nd period class during Highlander Time at least through the month of March. Students can still receive help from other teachers via Blackboard Collaborate link. 

Only one student will be allowed to leave the classroom to use the bathroom or refill their water bottle at a time. Students can no longer use the water fountain but can use the water bottle fillers. 

“You’re not allowed to visit classes that you’re not scheduled for,” Assistant Principal Jeffery Barham said during the return-to-school town hall on Feb. 24. “Just in case [if administrators need to go to a class], we have QR codes there for visitors to sign in.” 

If a student is not feeling well, he or she would need to contact the teacher, and a staff member will escort the student to the clinic. Separate from the clinic, McLean set up several Care Rooms around the school for students who display symptoms of COVID-19. Students will remain in the room with a staff member until a parent comes to pick up the student. 

“Parents are supposed to come within an hour to pick you up [if you’re sick],” Barham said. “We’re doing this to stay safe. If you’re sick, we’d rather you log in and access class virtually.”

In cafeterias, desks are set up to be six-feet apart facing the same direction. To speed up the infection-tracing progress, students will scan a QR code to record what lunch they attended and where they sat. 

“You can still go to the courtyard [and] non-academic areas in the hallway [for lunch],” Barham said. “We will also have free grab-and-go lunches for all students. If you forget your lunch or if you don’t want to bring your own lunch, it’s available.” 

At the end of the school day, students will be released by grade level starting with seniors. As of now, students need to exit the building after school, but administrators will make further decisions regarding after-school activities after spring break. 

“I’ve spent 20 years of my life in this building, so a part of my life is back to normal, at least [little bit],” Quarry said. “I am very excited to be back.”