Is Freezing to Death Really a Solution?

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Gracie Westphal, Reporter

Since the beginning of this school year, the Roaring Fork school district has been taking many precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community. With the last pandemic being one-century ago, it’s an understatement to say that we were surprised and unprepared for COVID-19.

 

In spite of the confusion, Glenwood Springs High School leaders took on the responsibility of determining the fate of their students for the 2020-21 school year. Although we are very fortunate to have returned to in-person learning, some students are questioning the decisions made by the district to protect the community from COVID-19.

 

Many of these concerns are regarding the methods being used to make passing periods safer. This year, Glenwood Springs High School has chosen to make students wait outside during each ten-minute period. So far, this rule has not been interrupted for anything; Weather, climate, or even decreasing COVID levels in our community.

 

“In this specific case, I don’t think going outside is effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19” said junior Ava Hillbrand. “This is because, by going outside, we are all forced to funnel out one door in which I’m often getting smashed up against other people, and it’s very hard to move or get to where I’m trying to go. So it’s actually making us be closer together and more confined. Then people just get into groups outside and stand idly for a full ten minutes without masks anyway- so it’s probably more likely to spread that way than if we just stayed inside.”

 

As a student attending in-person learning at GSHS, I can say from experience that going outside has not altered the level that students are interacting with each other. Friends still congregate in groups at every chance they get. Huddling together to help shield from the cold is not uncommon. On top of that, while standing in those groups, students are allowed to have their masks down. 

 

But, besides the outdoor rule, there are concerns from some students that the length of passing periods may also be accomplishing the opposite of the school’s intentions. Hillbrand thinks, “The passing periods are way too long. They only give kids time to stop and talk, and take off their masks in groups.”

 

“I think since the period outside is so long that it’s ineffective because people have more time to chat and take off their masks while they’re outside, especially in the winter since we all huddle in groups. So it would actually increase the spread, in my opinion” said Baylee Burton, a Freshman. “If the purpose was to just be able to clean the classrooms, then I think they’re a good time”

 

Another great point; These long passing periods that Glenwood Springs High School students have to spend in the cold are not currently being utilized to accomplish anything that would benefit the students or staff. If we must stay outside for an unnecessary amount of time, then it should be for a good reason.

 

There is also usually a lack of adult supervision of any kind during these times, which allows students opportunities for skipping classes, not properly social distancing, and other unregulated  actions. However, the indoor hallways are always monitored by teachers to make sure that no one is inside when they’re not supposed to be.

 

Going outside may also be giving some students more limited attendance. Students are expected to remain or return home if they are experiencing any symptoms. The concern is that students may be more at risk for catching other viruses, like the common cold, and be forced to attend in person learning for weeks.

 

So, with all of this in mind, what should we do instead? Well, we have a couple of ideas. Burton said, “I think they should shorten the amount of time outside, or, if they want us to stay outside for the ten minutes […], I think that teachers should have to spray something in the classrooms or disinfect something as a use of that time.”

 

Hillbrand likes the idea of indoor passing periods, and said, “I think we should shorten our passing periods to 5 minutes, and allow students to pass through the hallways with designated directions on each side of the hall so we are not running into each other. This way, no one would have time to congregate or use the bathroom between classes, and teachers could still monitor to make sure students aren’t congregating and talking since they’re already having to monitor [hallways] during passing periods anyway.”

 

There you have it administrators! We know you’ve been working hard to keep this school open the rest of the year, and we appreciate that. Hopefully, by speaking out with our new ideas, we can change the school for the better of our health and happiness as a community.