This year has seen a significant amount of changes in the way the world works. One of these being an introduction to a new way of schooling. Athletes and clubs are also having meetings on Zoom and practices inside and outside of the school throughout the week. Due to the uncertainty of the world right now, many precautions are being taken inside the school to make sure students and teachers are safe during their stay.
Because of the in-person communication and teaching from the building, the process to keep everyone in the building safe is tedious but necessary. There are multiple steps to take before and after entering the building.
“If we are choosing to work in the building, we are required to sign in and sign out,” french teacher Myanna Klein said. “When we sign in, we have to self certify, with the CDC questions.”
In addition to the required check-in before entering the building, there are many steps taken after school to ensure everyone’s safety as well.
“We are marking locations with caution tape and having staff state that they were in certain classrooms or in an office that day,” Debruyker said. “That way, our night crew that’s here every single night can make sure that it is clean, sanitized, and prepared for the next day.”
Teachers were given the option to work alongside others or by themselves solely depending on their health conditions and opinions. The administration wants the staff to be as safe and comfortable as they can while in an uncertain environment.
“We were given the option at the beginning if you wanted to be by yourself, or if you want it to be with one or two other people,” teaching assistant Julie Hannon said. “So I chose to be by myself. Some people did choose to be with one or two other people, but they are in a larger room than I am in. Then, the difference is when I am in my room alone with the door closed, I can take off my mask,”
These safety precautions are keeping staff as safe as possible. The general consensus is that the school is doing all they can to make sure everyone who is required to be in the school is as safe as they can be.
“In my opinion, it does feel like what they’re doing is sufficient,” Klein said. “Again, right now, it is different because it is just me in my room by myself, so that that does look different than when the room will be filled with people or if the room has 20 people in it. But I’m sure at that point, they work to be proactive rather than reactive.”
The roles and responsibilities of teachers in the building changed immensely because of the constant maintenance to keep the school safe. Many teachers and administrators are taking on the same amount of work compared to a regular school year, but the details that go into it have seen a significant difference.
“I recently delivered binders to students that needed them for a certain class, and I went to many homes to deliver graduation boxes last May,” assistant principal Daniel Debruyker said. “I never did that before. But now, that is kind of what is expected of us. I have never dealt with textbooks more in my life, but now with the material and Chromebook pickup and scanning textbooks, we’re working with the LMC. I’m working with different people within our building who I never really worked with as frequently before.”
Though the responsibilities, many educators have had stressful situations outside of school. The added duty of online schools in the building has been both beneficial and disadvantageous.
“Now that I’m allowed to be in the building and have a workspace, it feels like I’m able to have that work-life balance back because I’m able to separate my home from my work,” French teacher Myanna Klein said. “I really applaud people who can put in place those boundaries and say, ‘I will work from these times and I will stop working and be able to balance out their home lives and manage their own kids learning.’ I really just found that I couldn’t.”
In addition to finding a work-life balance, teachers have seen a change in the amount of time they spend away from home compared to back in March.
“Many things have changed. I know for me personally, I’m not really going anywhere except for grocery shopping and the school,” teaching assistant Hannon said. “So, coming to the school every day is the main difference, and trying to keep my distance from others and keep me and my family safe is the biggest change.”
Specific teachers are being required to work in the building instead of at home. These include teaching assistants, dean’s assistants, most of the secretaries, pool, library, and health assistants. Others have the option to be in the building or at home teaching.
“I need to be in the building because there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to keeping the staff safe, Debruyker said. The students that come here for athletics after school or in small groups and material pickups are events I oversee to keep students and staff safe. There are a lot of parts that need either an administrator here or someone to help answer questions to help the staff and the students and the community.”
Metea Valley is taking the extra steps and precautions to create a safe environment for all staff and students. In a time of unpredictability, these steps are imperative for anyone and everyone attending the school, including the seniors returning next week for SAT testing on Wednesday.
“ I want [students] to know the amount of time and effort that everyone is putting in to prepare for anything that comes our way,” Debruyker said. “We want to make sure that we are doing it right and communicating about everything. Every single thing that we do is not just thrown out there. There is a lot of time and thought and effort put into preparing an environment that’s going to be safe for our students.”