Two weeks ago, Wake County moved from Plan B to Plan A. Plan B was a division of in person students into three cohorts, rotating each week. Plan A ups the count in the school building to full capacity; there are no cohorts or smaller classes.
Although COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, it is much more difficult to manage who is following the rules. Masks are required, hallways are one way, and social distancing is encouraged. Faculty is directed to maintain these guidelines in the classroom in order to keep everyone safe.
For Elizabeth Kluckman, a senior at Leesville Road High School, Plan A is extremely important to her. “I had decided that I would take any opportunity to go back to school when Wake County decided to move high schoolers in person,” Kluckman said via text. Kluckman prioritizes her education and understands how necessary it is; there was no question that she would attend school during Plan A.
Sean Ohmann, a senior at Leesville, didn’t want to attend school during Plan A. “I signed up for [Plan] B and was happy with it, so my parents forced me to stay [on Plan] A instead of going [Virtual Academy],” Ohmann said via text.
Heather Kleinert, a junior at Leesville, was struggling with online school; she jumped at the chance to return for Plan A. “It’s been almost impossible for me to try and actually do my schoolwork and pay attention to the Google Meets,” she said via text.
Being in school with a large number of people for the first time in about a year, the environment is a big jump from the social distanced and secluded environment many students are used to. It’s difficult to feel safe while being in classes during a pandemic, but it is relieving to be under the care of faculty who work to keep students safe.
“I like how some teachers still implement at least 6 feet of distance even though it is not required, and I am very thankful for the mask mandate in schools,” Kluckman said.
No matter how much the rules and safety guidelines are enforced, there will always be rule breakers. Masks are left on the chin, groups crowd together, and hallway directions are ignored. When people choose not to follow the rules, it not only threatens the education of other students, but their lives and safety.
Kluckman observes students without masks on correctly often and it worries her. “It;s incredibly frustrating to see other people wearing their mask below their nose or under their chin. I also wish that some teachers would be setting a good example and enforcing mask wearing on their students, as some don’t say anything in class when a student is wearing their mask incorrectly.” When it comes to the classroom, Kleinhert sees the number of people in the classroom and the lack of social distancing as the key problem at school. “I feel like we need to try and keep students from sitting right up next to each other in classrooms. In some of my classes everyone has no choice but to sit really close to each other, and even though I know they can’t help the amount of kids in certain classes I feel like it’s still risky.”
Ohmann is firm on his stance that a majority of students and faculty at Leesville are jeopardizing the safety and well being of others. “I don’t think they’ve done much of anything good to be frank. They compromised most of what I would consider to be reasonable guidelines.”
At Leesville Road High School, Wake County confirmed seven positive COVID cases among students on campus in the past two weeks. Being on campus for only seven days, some see the cases as a representation of the lack of precautions at the school. If one contracts COVID outside of school, whether or not they are showing symptoms, the elimination of screening before entrance to the building increases the probability of the spread.
Ohmann has seen instances of people not following the precautions set in place by the school. “I think [faculty] just letting kids walk down the hallway with no mask is stupid. If you are going to set a rule, then the bare minimum is for you to enforce it,” he said. Although a few instances does not represent the entire student body and faculty, there are still moments that put everyone in the school at risk.
As Wake County moves further into its first month of Plan A, precautionary measures must be kept up even as students and faculty get more comfortable back in the building. Education and health should be equally prioritized while students are in the building.