New COVID-19 protocols at WHS

On Sep. 9, WHS began full day, in-person instruction for the first time in 18 months. With the reopening of school came a new set of COVID-19 protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of the entire WHS community. All of these protocols were sent to students in an email from the SGA and were reviewed in an assembly on the first day of school during first period.

The most crucial protocol is the enforcement of masks, which must be worn properly (above the nose) at all times inside the building. “The students have done a great job being diligent about their masks; we’ve had to ask [very few students] to pull them up over [their] nose after lunch,” Assistant Principal Jim DeSarno said.

Students are now required to swipe into the building every morning using their school ID, as well as upon entering and exiting any offices, or upon returning from open lunch. Drinks (water only) are allowed in classrooms, but food is still prohibited. For lunch, students have access to the cafeterias, auditorium, Student Center, Multipurpose Room, Project 79 courtyard and tables outside (with limited seating available), as well as the opportunity to leave school for open lunch for upperclassmen (see page 2 for more details about lunch protocols).

“Our main focus [for safety] is places like the lunchroom and big rooms where a lot of students can congregate. We’re trying to utilize outside space [for lunch], even the little space out back by the bike racks,” DeSarno said.

After digital learning last year, WHS has shifted a bit more to a technology-centered curriculum. Students are required to bring a device to school or may borrow one from the district to complete their class assignments.

Some policies from last year’s hybrid learning have been relaxed or removed for this school year. Students are now able to move freely in the hallways and have access to all staircases, as well as gym and hallway lockers. All offices are open to students, no appointments are necessary and most extracurricular activities have resumed in-person meetings.

In the event that a student does test positive for COVID-19, contract tracing will occur and students who are unvaccinated will quarantine for 10 days. Students who are vaccinated will not be required to quarantine. Students in every class are required to sit in assigned seats and all teachers must have a seating chart prepared in the event that a case occurs. During the quarantine period, students will receive their assignments through Google Classroom and there will be scheduled times for teachers to meet and communicate with their students to keep them on track.

All of the protocols are subject to change as the school year progresses and guidelines on the pandemic change. “I’m hopeful that if we continue to progress and the cases lessen that we’ll be able to revaluate what we’re doing, but so far it’s been working okay,” Principal Mary Asfendis said.

For now, students must continue to follow the current procedures outlined in order to ensure a safe start to the school year.