COVID-19 has greatly affected Bellwood-Antis and schools across the country since March, when students were first sent home, and the precautions put in place then are not going to stop anytime soon. Thankfully, students are back full-time; however, the school has changed a lot since the last time teenagers were in the building.
The way students walk the halls, the way students enter school, the way students eat lunch, even the way they learn is all different. Some classes are now in the media center and some students are learning virtually, but teachers have remained the backbone of this new way of teaching and learning.
Tom Kovac is the buildings and grounds supervisor and responsible for how the school is being cleaned at all times. His job has changed a lot since the COVID shutdown started. He orders all of the cleaning supplies that are used throughout the school, which is hard because the cleaning supplies needed at B-A are the same ones schools throughout the country are seeking.
Mr. Kovac views these new obstacles as a challenge and he fully believes that “the entire staff and faculty have been amazing and have all shared the goal of educating while keeping everyone healthy.”
All teachers are required to wipe down every desk after each class and masks are required throughout the day with the occasional mask break. Despite these challenges for everyone, Ms. Clippard believes that for students “the incentive to stay healthy in order to stay in school is strong. It speaks to how much our kids really missed being here and we want to keep it that way!”
Before the start of every school day, frequently touched surfaces are getting disinfected. After school, the custodians do their normal cleaning routine, as well as using a disinfectant spray to further clean all of the surfaces in the school.
The cleaners used are highly effective and Mr. Kovac stated that they are “using hospital grade cleaners and have had thorough training on how to properly use the products.”
Some teachers are even going above and beyond in their classes in efforts to stay extra safe. For example, Ms. Clippard, who is the chemistry teacher, is having students wash their hands as soon as they enter the classroom, and she seats every student six feet apart as best as she can. Even the way Ms. Clippard instructs her class is different. Now she has limited paper usage in her class and students are not able to share goggles, which extremely limits what she can do with chemistry labs.
However, seating kids six feet apart is not possible for every teacher because of the sizes of their rooms. Due to this, some classes have been moved to the media center.
Mr. Roberts is the new history teacher and in his first year at Bellwood. He not only has to deal with COVID-19, but one of his classes was even moved to the media center and he is teaching two students through Microsoft teams. However, this unexpected challenge has not stopped him from believing that we will have a great year.
Mr. Roberts stated that, “The students at Bellwood- Antis High School value education and the opportunity they have to be together this year, and due to the students’ attitude and willingness to follow the guidelines set in place, it has made being in Bellwood, thus far, a pleasure.”
Dismissal is also a big change in the school day. Every eighth period, class is shortened because students who ride buses start getting dismissed at 2:48, which is five minutes before the school day is actually over because of the need to keep students spread and not piling up in large groups in the hallways.
Mrs. Frank teaches advanced math eighth period and typically her tests are timed. Due to this way of dismissing students, she said that she will have to shorten her tests so students can finish before they start getting dismissed.
Throughout the school day, Bellwood students have seen so many changes because of COVID; however, despite the obstacles, the teachers have been doing their absolute best to ensure that the students stay in school and keep learning for as long as they possibly can.