• Emily Perkins, editor in chief

COVID-19 impacts Tiger Nation

To make sure the schools could reopen during the pandemic, district administration had to make some significant changes.

The changes were put into place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, which would keep students and staff as safe as possible.

The decision-making went on until the end of July when the administrative staff sent an email to parents asking them how their children wanted to go back to school.

Over 800 students wanted to come back to the actual EHS building, leaving approximately 100 students to learn online.

One drastic change was the mandatory masks that all students, staff members and visitors would have to wear while in the building.

The stressful process of trying to figure out what to do started around the time last year's school year ended. There were different ideas tossed around between the administrators.

They had to be able to follow all of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines, like maintaining a six feet "social" distance between people as often as possible and a mask mandate.

“There were multiple scenarios the district had come up with,” Principal Dr. Christie Meyer said.

The most surprising change for many was the start of the A and B days and block scheduling.

Students with last names that start with A through K would go to school one day, while students with last names beginning with L through Z would go online for that day. The process would then reverse the next day.

Something the administration has been wanting to implement for a while was to give students lanyards for their student IDs.

On their first day of school, they gave them lanyards and their IDs. These IDs did not have the students' pictures on them.

Those updated IDs were recently distributed.

The idea of students wearing their photo IDs was implemented for safety reasons and to get students through the lunch line so there would be a touch-free system.

“We always wanted to have lanyards with IDs and the reason we started using them this year was we wanted to create a that type of system during lunch,” Meyer said.

The impact of COVID-19 has resulted in a wide-range of emotions for many students and staff. The fact that the pandemic does not have an end in sight is also causing anxiety.

“I changed schools because of it," senior Haley Stewart said. "I used to go to Valley Center.”

Some people have already had to be quarantine.

Science teacher Amber Lane was quarantined a little bit after the school year started because her husband tested positive.

It was discombobulating, as Lane put it, for both her and the students.

Lane had just "met" her students and then she had to go into quarantine.

Last year, at least Lane knew the students and had a bond with them, but this time around, she barely knew them.

Teaching during a pandemic is stressful for teachers as well.

“I recorded all my lectures and the sub would show the videos or the students could watch them in Google Classroom,” Lane said.

For many, it is often difficult not to focus on the negatives during the pandemic, but some have tried to find some positives to concentrate on.

“I’m just glad to be back and have kids in the building,” Meyer said.

If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, and they are at school, they are sent home immediately, and whomever they have come in contact with will be notified.

If they are at home, they will not be allowed back until they do not show any symptoms.

Wherever they are, they will then be required to isolate for 10 days and are allowed to come back to school when they are 72 hours symptom-free and 24 hours fever-free.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is abiding by the regulations the CDC has provided.

Some examples are washing your hands the "correct way," social distancing, wearing a mask in public, staying home if sick and "coughing into the elbow."

“Right now social distancing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID,” school nurse Elizabeth Phillips said.

As the school year goes on, the administration is hoping more kids will be able to be in the building.

In January, all students have the choice of either being involved in the hybrid system, half online and half in person, or being involved in the online program only.

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