A look at Whittier Middle School’s COVID-19 prevention measures

Education

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO0 — Many South Dakota students will return to class in less than two weeks, but other schools across the nation are off to rocky starts.

Nationwide, about 1,500 students and staff are in quarantine due to the pandemic. Schools in Omaha, Nebraska confirmed two cases just days after opening.

Educators here are preparing to bring students back safely.

“Whittier has lots and lots of stair cases all over,” Erika Paladino, Whittier Middle School principal, said.

When you have this many actual steps, you have to take a few steps to spread students out.

“The goal is to make multiple staircases one way only. You can see the yellow sticker,” Paladino said.

Paladino showed us how Whittier Middle School is trying to prevent any spread of COVID-19. She says students can expect staggered schedules to keep the hallways and lunchroom less crowded. In the cafeteria, there are paw print stickers at each table. Yes, there will be assigned seating.

“Every day, they’ll sit at A1, A2, B1, B2. So, if we have to contact trace, or anything happens, then we’ll know exactly where those students are sitting at lunch,” Paladino said.

The 1,000 students will also have to pay attention to where they’re walking.

Paladino: The social distancing circles are on the floor as a reminder.
Brady: With the tape, I know some viewers will be like, ‘how do you get them to stay in there? How do you get them to stand in that spot?’ It’s not a force field. How do you do that?
Paladino: Through teaching and re-teaching… And just reminding and doing it ourselves.

Beyond that, the school bought masks for students and staff. Paladino knows there are a lot of challenges. Yes, there are a lot of steps, but she’s optimistic students will follow them.

“Kids are super malleable and generally, I think people would be surprised, really respectful of rules and people who are trying to protect them,” Paladino said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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