NEW LEXINGTON — The Saint Rose Catholic School officially started its school year on Aug. 19. With the reopening of the facility, teachers, staff and faculty have adjusted to the new normal of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Prior to the start of the new school year, Saint Rose Principal Michael Lollo stated that making preparations during the summer months was “chaotic” and challenging.
“It seemed like half the country is thinking ‘we are in a pandemic, we got to take this seriously’ and the other half [is thinking the pandemic] is political,” Lollo told The Perry County Tribune. “Regardless, we had to look at the safety of our kids.”
The school principal added that faculty had to examine all aspects of instructional operations leading up to the school year to make sure social distancing and other guidelines were in place. Aspects included classroom activities and lunch scheduling adjusted to fit with the state and local guidelines.
“There were a lot of conversations and meetings and the teachers did a great job of helping out,” Lollo said.
For the classrooms, wood framed-plastic dividers were implemented into each classroom to limit the physical contact of each student. The clear-plastic frame with a two feet by two feet wooden frame allows the students to be able to view instructors while also keeping a safe distance.
Rooms in the Saint Rose building have limited opportunities to adjust to six feet of separation, however, barriers help limit student-to-student interactions. At the same time, all students can be seen wearing masks in class and around the building.
“Since we can’t get the students six feet apart, at least they are three feet and there is a barrier,” Lollo said.
After the first day of school last week, Lollo noted some lessons learned in regards to lunch periods with students. He said that after the first lunch period leaves the room, too much time was taken up by sanitizing and cleaning efforts.
However, the use of table cloths have been added to the lunch tables so that the transition would be much quicker. The table clothes were purchased with the school’s COVID-19 fund as well as other types of cleaning products.
Saint Rose, as like many other schools, have utilized a reopening document to show how the education process will run this year. Like many others, it is a fluid document that will adjust depending on local and state health orders and guidelines.
The school has a tier one through three instruction methods which relates to how the pandemic is affecting the county. Tier one is a full instruction and in person system, tier two is a hybrid of online and in person teaching and tier three is a fully online instruction method.
“If we have to close, we are going to offer online learning,” Lollo said.
Lollo added that a full online method of instruction may prove difficult due to the lack of basic broadband in the area. Saint Rose has applied for a state grant which could give the ability for the school to offer laptops and hotspots for students working at home.
According to the Saint Rose reopening document, the school will implement recommended safety protocols, transparent with stakeholders on present risks to children and employees as well as recognizing the need for consistency in areas of operations.
Students will also have wellness checks and temperature recordings conducted at home prior to arriving at school.