SYLVESTER, Ga. (WALB) - New leadership and tactics fall on Worth Country High School as students begin the new school year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Innovative is the word new Principal Melissa Edwards is using to describe Worth County High School’s new school year.
Around 800 students and 100 staff members fall under her care as principal this year.
Although virtual and in-person learning is an option for students, most are wanting to return to the classroom.
COVID-19 has altered how students around the globe return to class, especially in Worth County.
“Encouraging our students to wear a mask, especially in areas where six feet distancing can not be maintained. That’s gonna be very difficult in our classrooms, in our hallways,” said Edwards.
Signage is in place to remind everyone about social distancing and staff is asking people to wear masks in elevators and other confined spaces while with others.
Staff members were given masks and disposable masks are available for students.
There are new procedures in the classrooms and hallways.
“Have them all face the same direction and just stay in compliance with the CDC guidelines as much as we can, but we know that achieving social distancing on all sides is gonna be something very difficult to achieve,” explained Edwards. “But we do feel like we’re taking the necessary precautions to mitigate the issues as much as we possibly can. “In hallways, we’re trying to relieve the crowds through some staggered dismissals and creative bell scheduling so that we’re releasing the classrooms essentially, in shifts. So that the timing will prevent that crowding in the hallway.”
Lunchtime is also going to look a little different this year.
There will now be four lunches per day.
That drops the student population at lunch from around 400 to 150.
“So that’s a dramatic reduction in numbers,” said Edwards.
Outdoor and spaced out seating will be available for safer dining.
Sanitizing stations, water bottle stations, along with extra cleaning staff and products in the classroom are being utilized for everyone’s safety.
Edwards said she and school system officials have worked really hard to keep not only students safe but the entire Worth County community.
“And we’re doing everything we can to make sure that students who want to return to campus in a traditional setting can do so as safely as possible,” said Edwards.
Worth County High School leaders are also cracking down on visitors coming in and out of the building during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only those with official business, like checking students in or out will be allowed in the school.
Also, visitors are not allowed to go past the lobby.
Employees and students will also have to get their temperatures taken before coming into the building every day. Officials are even asking questions like, ‘any symptoms?’ and ’ have you been around anybody with COVID-19?’
“In our main entrances, which is for our drivers and our bus drop off students, we have temperature scanners which will scan up to 70 temperatures a minute. Looks a lot like a metal detector. It’s got a sensor on it, you come through and it allows the administrator on the other side or teacher on the other side to see what your temperature is,” Edwards said.
If a student has symptoms, they are isolated until they can receive medical treatment. Edwards said that’s a district-wide school policy.
Safety on school buses is a high priority for Worth County High School leaders as well.
While bus routes will remain the same as they were in the past, school officials want students to wear masks when they are on the buses.
Worth County School officials are also asking that parents help with limiting crowds on buses.
“Any parent who is able to bring their child to school, we’re encouraging them to please do that. Just to reduce crowding on the buses,” said Edwards.
All drop off and pick up areas will be the same.
Student and staff parking procedures will also remain the same.