Moving Backwards

SHS returns to familiar protocols

Students walk through the social studies hallway during passing period. SHS is now requiring masks during school.

Ryder Harris

Students walk through the social studies hallway during passing period. SHS is now requiring masks during school.

On July 27, SHS started the school year with no mask mandate, no contact tracing for those wearing masks and no assigned seats in the lunchroom. This was a change from the 2020-2021 school year, when the school was taking more precautions against COVID-19.
Principal Brian Knight says that this decision was largely because of the decrease in COVID-19 cases in the area.
“You can go on the CDC website and you can see trending cases per county,” Knight said. “If you look at Marion County five weeks ago, it’s really been in the last five or six weeks that the numbers have really started to spike.”
Knight thinks that there was no way for the school or township to know that there would be an increase in cases, so coming back with fewer protocols was what they thought was best at the time.
“I think there was some apprehension coming back without some universal protocols in place,” Knight said. “In July, when we were looking at it, the numbers weren’t very high.”
After a couple weeks of having these protocols in place, COVID-19 cases have risen to a place where the school felt they needed to bring back some of the precautions that they had last year, which include masks and assigned seating during lunch periods.
Wanting to keep everyone in school,

COVID-19 Statistics

Knight and other Perry Township administrators are doing whatever they can to get cases back under control.
This year, SHS

had more freedom when making decisions about COVID-19 protocols. Last year, most of the restrictions put in place were in the hands of the Marion County health department. With more knowledge and experience with all of this, schools had more opportunities to think of rules that pertained best to them individually.

In Knight’s opinion, this made the decision making process much more difficult, because no one truly knew what was best for the school.
Since circumstances were changing quickly, the administration was working together to find what they thought was the right solution. However, they weren’t sure of what that was.
“We try to be very intentional and very planned out,” Knight said. “And there were times last year when at the beginning of the week I thought we were going to do one thing and by the end of the week it was going to be something different.”
One familiar mandate set in place is assigned lunch tables. Students are now required to sit with their classes during lunch, and must be released by table to get their food and dispose of their trash.

However, with the increase in cases, a township-wide mask mandate has been issued. This means that any time a student or staff member enters the building, they are required to have a mask on until the time they exit the building. This mandate will be set in place until further notice.
Not knowing if these policies will be enough for SHS to return to a more normal structure, junior Sam Brookshire urges vaccines for anyone who is eligible.
“I think that that’s the main focus, is, if students were to push other students…and encourage others to get vaccinated,” Brookshire said.
Several people in the school, including science teacher Amanda Schnepp, said that the current circumstances were expected with the amount of cases present when the year started.
“I think, as a science person, that we should follow the data and the evidence, and the data and evidence show that masks work and social distancing is even better,” Schnepp said. “So I think by not having social distancing with the whole school and masks being optional, we weren’t doing everything in the beginning that we could have.”
Many students and staff agree that not having stricter protocols in place during the first few weeks of school ultimately led to the current protocols, and that this possibly could have been avoided had at least some of the protocols from last year been kept in place.
“I think wearing masks is a good way to try to prevent the spread and keep us all in school as long as possible,” Schnepp said.
While some students are not a fan of the new policies in place, most are okay with it and see it as a good and necessary step to get back to normal.
“It doesn’t change that much for me,” senior Mason Piatt said. “I just put a mask on and sit with other people at lunch,”
Even though Piatt thinks the new policies at SHS are a good idea, he thinks that having them set in place at the beginning of the year wouldn’t have done as much as other people may think.
“It definitely didn’t help, not having masks on,” Piatt said, “but I feel like it was going to go up either way with the new Delta variant that’s out.”
Unsure of what the future ahead of them looks like, most students are hoping for the best but would not be surprised if these protocols lasted the year.
“I’m hoping second semester is better, but I could definitely see it being the same as what we have right now,” Piatt said.