DISTANCE LEARNING ENDS: Procedures protect student activities


artwork by Sydney Gonzales

The school board voted on Oct. 13 that all online students must be back in class on Monday Nov. 2 at the beginning of the third six weeks. Returning to school will not include people with extreme health issues and people who have COVID like symptoms or have been exposed to it.

We have seen significant learning gaps in our students who have returned from distance learning. We feel obligated to bring our students to a more productive learning environment so that the achievement gap does not widen.”

— Superintendent Kyle Lynch

  As of Oct. 20 Gaines County had reported 461 Covid-19 cases and 10 deaths. While the high school has reported 10 Covid-19 cases for students, none of those students contracted the virus on campus.

   “I personally think the precautions we have put in place have been a contributing factor of why we have had zero cases at the high school,” Principal Robert Chappell said. “Now we have had both teachers and students get Covid, but they have contracted it some place else. We have really good kids who have embraced the fact that wearing masks helps stave off Covid.”

   Lynch took action by ordering cleaning supplies, face shields and other equipment to better protect the school district before the year started. 

  Lynch said the district is using a preventive, antimicrobial misting system at all facilities and on buses to thoroughly and widely disinfect daily. The district also disinfects locker rooms, weight rooms and equipment cages. Hand sanitizer stations are located at all facility entrances. Acrylic dividers have been in use. 

  Students and staff are expected to utilize the district’s self-care screening questionnaire which includes daily temperatures. 

  For all events, a 50 percent of capacity is in effect as well as a limit on visiotrs into school facilities. 

  Face coverings are mandated by the governor’s Executive Order GA 29.

  Electives have shifted to virtual competition in order to stay socially distanced from opposing schools. One of these competitions was the UIL all-region choir contest.

  “Personally I do feel safer auditioning online for all region,” junior alto Liz Pinon said. “However, the audition process is way more tedious because it’s no longer a one and done thing since you can record as many times as you want. The more you are there recording, the more you get in your own head.”

  The speech team has also been experiencing virtual competition.

  “It’s so nice to be able to perform again because we didn’t know if we would be able to,” senior speaker Reese Cooper said. “Although this process isn’t ideal, we have made do with what we have.”

  Pep rallies have also been canceled due to social distancing. The cheerleaders record their routines for pep rallies to put on the school news. 

  “It is really pointless to have these recorded pep rallies because no one gets involved,” senior cheerleader Emma Franklin said. “There is no school spirit, but we have to do it so that people can stay safe.”

  Although the pandemic changed many procedures, Chappell said he is proud of the way the students have handled the changes and hopes to continue the rest of the school year just as smoothly. 

  “We have really good kids who have embraced the fact that wearing masks helps stave off Covid,” Chappell said. “If a student has been with someone who has tested, or they have tested personally, they should wait until the test comes back negative before coming to school or attending any school event. If they aren’t sure of what to do, call the high school (758-5873) and speak to the nurse.”