New safety procedures at RHS

With the return of face-to-face learning during a pandemic, there comes many safety procedures in place to keep COVID-19 from spreading further throughout RHS.
“The two most important things are to always wear a mask and be six feet apart whenever possible,” Superintendent Dr. Catherine Cost said.
After being away and experiencing remote learning for several months, numerous procedures have been implemented to help insure the safety of students and staff.
“There is more of a focus on making sure the bathrooms and hallways are sanitized,” Assistant Principal Patrick Hickey said. “We have doors propped open that kids would normally have to grab a hold of, and teachers will be sanitizing the room in between classes.”
The number one priority is the safety and health of the students and staff so everyone can remain in school for face to face learning. Rules must be followed by all students, and the consequences will be severe if students do not adhere to the rules.
“If students continue to not follow the new rules, they will be transferred to the virtual academy,” Cost said.
To keep the school completely sanitized as much as possible, RHS hired new custodial workers during the day shift.
“We got a couple people that are dedicated to hitting bathrooms and doorknobs and all that stuff on a regular basis,” Principal Benjamin Reynolds said.
Something that is being especially encouraged around the school is hand sanitizer.
“There are hand sanitizers in every classroom where students will be encouraged to use it both on their way in and their way out of the classroom,” Hickey said.
Many other small building modifications have been instituted throughout RHS to adhere to current guidelines.
“There are multiple entrances, social distancing, one way stairwells, one way hallways, 1/3 of the students are present at one time, grab and go lunches,” Cost said.
In past years at RHS, every student had access to a locker for textbooks and other personal items; This year, students will not receive a locker until later as a way to prevent clustering in the hallways.
“We will probably issue lockers in early November, we learned last year when COVID happened only about a third of our kids actually used their lockers,” Reynolds said. “We really think that the locker usage really is when kids have big heavy winter coats, so when that weather comes, that’s when we will issue lockers.”
Among the list of other building changes, classrooms are looking and functioning a lot differently than normal this school year.
“Normally, in the classroom you would be able to eat and drink, but with this in place, we don’t want that since it would require you to remove your mask,” Hickey said. “Everybody will be wearing a mask, and desks are further apart.”
To adhere to social distancing, teachers have made many changes with the way students sit in the classroom and the way the desks are arranged.
“Desks are in rows, all facing forward and students will be spread out as much as possible,” Cost said. “Teachers have removed unnecessary items to make more space, choir students will have face shields, and band members’ instruments will have bell covers.”
Another big change has to do with lunch, as there are no longer three lunch periods; There are now only two, which allows sanitization between lunch groups and social distancing throughout the cafeteria and commons.
“The way the tables are, we feel that people have a safe distance between them and whoever else is at the table and it will be very similar to how restaurants are,” Hickey said. “When you get up you have your mask on and when you are not eating your mask needs to be on.”
With the new one-way staircase rules and directions in the hallways, some students are concerned about getting to class on time.
“We don’t have plans for that right now, this first week there’s gonna be a lot of tardies, everyone is finding their way around,” Reynolds said. “Everything’s day by day, we will adjust as need be.”
The biggest thing to keep students in face-to-face learning and to not have to switch back to remote is to keep masks on at all times unless while eating and to follow social distancing guidelines.
“The most important thing is for people to keep their mask on and keep in mind social distancing,” Hickey said.