The Cohorts are Combined


Students seen practicing the enforced rule of having only two people at each lunch table.

Is it safe enough to have an entire school body within a building at this time? Will precautions be enforced to ensure Covid-19 cases do not escalate?

Change presented itself within the walls of Chapin High on Monday, November 9th, as the Lexington-Richland School District 5 decided to combine the two sets of cohorts created by the enforced hybrid schedule. 

In an abundance of caution, new safety measures have presented themselves as a result of the student body returning for four day a week instruction. 

One significant change seen has been the inclusion of plexiglass and plastic dividers placed at the desks of students. The dividers were enforced in an effort to continue to be socially distant at school. Masks no longer served as enough as the now doubled-class sizes have made it impossible for students to remain six feet apart at all times. 

Another change put into effect by administrators was adding more outside seating areas to be used during students’ lunch periods. The new outdoor seating serves as an alternative to sitting in an enclosed cafeteria.

Prior to the combination, students with last names beginning with the letters A-K attended school on Mondays and Tuesdays, whereas students with last names ranging from L-Z attended school on Thursdays and Fridays. Combining the two divided cohorts was a significant change as class sizes doubled and students are now attending school four days a week. Previously, students attended school, two days a week.

Mixed feelings have presented themselves as a result of the recent change. Some argue that COVID is as present as ever within society and that it was far too early to make an effort to bring school back to its normal routine. According to a poll posted on the CSPN Eagles website, 67% of students felt unsafe, 31% of students felt safe, and 5% of students were indifferent since they were already enrolled in the all virtual program. There were 180 responses, with results showing that the majority of people had a negative outlook in regards to returning back to school.

“I do not feel safe at school. The school is too crowded and I constantly see people take their masks off,” said, junior Sally Outzs.

 Junior Reagan McMahon said, “I don’t feel safe with all of the students back at CHS because of all of the overcrowding in all areas of the school.” The overcrowding classrooms and halls seem to be a continuous concern throughout much of the student body.

Others feel relieved to finally be back into the swing of things. Junior Reece Mack said, “I feel safe at school. Everyone is wearing their masks and trying their best to socially distance. Teachers are being very sanitary and are attempting to keep things as clean as possible.”

Wednesdays are a notable factor to consider in understanding the changes imposed by the school. Since sanitation and safety are priorities, students and teachers  remain home each Wednesday to allow for the janitorial staff to deep clean the building in areas such as bathrooms, desks, cafeteria tables, etc. Students will be required to join a scheduled Google Meet every Wednesday to make up for the physical time being lost.  

Despite the combination of the previous cohorts, virtual FIVE students did not see a change within their routine. It was decided that FIVE students would continue to learn virtually. However, students within the program will be presented the opportunity to return to the physical school at the beginning of the second semester in early January. If students decline the offer, then they will continue their virtual studies for the remainder of this school year. 

Overall, time will be the ultimate factor of Lexington-Richland School District 5’s decision. Perhaps going back to normal was crucial for the mental sanity of students as well as for their grades. 

Contrary, perhaps the precautions enforced were not enough to ensure safety and COVID cases will continue to rise due to a potentially failed effort to properly social distance. 

As of Thursday, November 12th, some students were being sent home due to potentially being exposed to COVID-19.  Students being sent home have been asked to quarantine for a 14 day period in an effort of safety to ensure that more students do not become exposed. In speaking with some of those students who are at home, some have said they think being sent home because of potential contact with a positive student is an over-reaction. However, others who were sent home said that safety is the most important concern right now. Some said if this safety is not prioritized schools could very likely shut down once again. 

Adviser’s Note: The reporting on students and the impact of the Covid-19 Virus is on going and students may update their reports as new information is made available. Students who are at home on quarantine and students who have been potentially exposed to Covid-19 have not been identified in this report.