Molly is a sophomore in her first year of journalism. She doesn't play any sports, but she manages the JV football team as well as the JV baseball team....
Making Masks Work
October 28, 2020
Fluvanna County has decided to go back hybrid, with approximately 600 students choosing to be hybrid and 900 choosing to stay virtual. What will being on a hybrid schedule look like? Hybrid students will be required to wear masks while in the hallways, cafeteria, bathrooms, and classrooms. Things are complicated and changing and this is a work in progress, so there are still a lot of unknowns. However, a full plan will be in place by the time students return to school on Nov. 5 after a three-day break.
In the meantime, here’s a guide to what you need to know about wearing masks at school. The most important thing for students to know is that masks will be required everyday a student attends in-person instruction unless a documented medical situation exists, in which case a student should bring in a doctor’s note.
Assistant Principal Wanda Elliott also noted that they will have some extras available if a student forgets their mask. What kind of masks are acceptable? “We have not defined a face covering as safe or not. The mouth and nose must be covered,” said Elliott. If after a reminder or warning a student refuses to wear a mask, they will be sent home for the day.
On the Bus
Students who ride the bus will be required to wear a mask the whole ride and students will be spaced out six feet apart or more, meaning that buses will carry ⅓ of what they used to hold. If a student does not have a mask they will not be allowed on the bus, even if they have a doctor’s note. While you are waiting for the bus in the morning you will need to wear a mask unless you are by yourself, but the second you step onto the bus you will need to have your mask on.
One more thing to remember about masks and the bus: They will not be doing bus passes this year. If you are going to a friend’s house after school then either friend or your parent/guardian will need to come pick you and take you to your friend’s house. Or you can ride the bus to your house and then make your own way to your friend’s house from there.
You will be required to wear your mask the entire time during class except during designated mask breaks (see below).
In the Halls/Restrooms
You will be wearing your mask in the halls and in the bathrooms. The halls will have one-way signs to minimize traffic in the halls and so you can be distanced and safe. For trips to the restroom you will need to keep your mask on the entire time while using the facilities. Teachers are only allowed to send one student at a time to help keep the hallways and restrooms safe for everyone.
Students who want breakfast when they arrive at school will be able to pick up breakfast and then go to their first block class to eat it. Students entering school through the cafeteria will get food there to take to their class. A grab and go cart is planned for the first floor for bus riders.
Gatherings in the hallway will not be allowed in the morning or in between classes. From the moment you enter the school, you will be required to have your mask on, with the exception of 5-10 minutes to eat your breakfast in your first period before being required to put your mask back on.
During lunch you’ll be able to take off your mask after you sit down to eat lunch, but if you need to buy lunch or use the restroom you will need to put it back on. All of the lunch tables and chairs will be spaced six feet apart. There will be three lunches, 25 minutes each, and 20 minutes between the lunches so the cafeteria can get cleaned. This is something that is put in place to keep each student safe while accommodating all of the students’ needs.
Will Students Get Breaks?
While details are still being determined, students may get mask breaks at the discretion of their teachers, while being distanced. If you are not comfortable with taking your mask off during this time that is fine. You may not talk while your mask is off.
Water fountains will be closed except for a few water bottle filling stations which will be open to fill up a water bottle. As a result, you may want to pack enough water for the day, and if you need more you can go to the designated water fillers or buy water in the vending machine.
Seeing the nurse will look very different this year. Students will only be allowed to go to the nurse for serious issues, with minor issues (bleeding, ice packs, headaches, etc.) being handled in the classroom.
Things to note about the Clinic this year:
- There will be a Well Student Area located in the current Clinic which will be utilized for students whose health care needs cannot be met in the classroom (such as diabetic care, medical procedures, or non-contagious health care needs).
- Isolation Room on the first floor will be intended for students with possible Covid-19 symptoms. Students will be assessed and parents contacted for immediate pickup as necessary.
- Protocols will be in place to accommodate students who are diabetics or take daily medication.
You will not be allowed to walk to the Guidance/Counseling office. You will have to email or call your counselor to set up a meeting. The school will not be doing guidance passes this year.
Questions about mask-wearing should be directed to your teacher or an administrator.