ROCHESTER, Mich. (WXYZ) — Rochester High School generally has a student population of around 1,700. It’s unclear right now just how many will be back in-person come fall, but those students who do return will come back to a very different high school experience.
Everything from class schedules to desk arrangements and lunch time will be adjusted to keep students and staff as safe as possible.
Hallway traffic will flow in just one direction, and drinking fountains will be closed; however, there will be touch-less water stations for students to fill up a water bottle.
There are the obvious changes, like extra cleaning and sanitizing stations, and then there are the not-so-obvious changes, like deciding who moves from classroom to classroom.
“Teachers will be moving whereas students will be staying put so we can do that contact tracing if we need to," said superintendent Dr. Robert Shaner.
Students will no longer be permitted to use lockers.
Dr. Shaner said the process of re-opening for face-to-face learning and virtual learning during this pandemic is complicated, and districts are having to come up with a plan in a pretty short period of time, while battling problems like teacher shortages, testing and the uncertainty that comes with a public health crisis of this size.
Some things are still in flux, like if sports will be able to continue or how the district will handle homecoming.
And then there's keeping desks at least 6 feet apart.
“In a high school this size and a school district this size, particularly at a secondary level, it is logistically impossible. We don’t have enough teachers, we don’t have enough classrooms," he said.
It's strongly recommended in Phase 4 of the MI Safe Schools Roadmap, but not required.
Students and staff will need to wear masks, and desks will be moved much further apart to social distance as much as possible.
Any lunches the school provides will be pre-packaged to avoid contact.
“The cafeteria situation is going to be far more spread out. The kids will not be in one place eating lunch. Potentially it could even be in their classrooms eating lunch, we’re not sure on that yet," Dr. Shaner said.
As for visitors to Rochester High, they'll be prompted to complete a virtual health screening using a QR code, which is posted around the school.
And whether students opt for Rochester Community School's online campus or decide to return for face-to-face learning, Dr. Shaner said he wants every student to feel supported, and together -- even if it can't be physically.
“The social and emotional health of our students is probably equal to the physical health."
Rochester Community School District is set to resume classes Aug. 31.
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