Middle School Administration Reconsiders COVID-19 Restrictions for Middle School Next Year

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Will there be masks, one-way hallways, and lunches next year?

John Overend

As COVID-19 restrictions ease nationwide, Middle School students next year should anticipate the possibility of wearing masks at school while following a more normal schedule, according to the Middle School administration. 

At the end of last year, we were doing school entirely virtually, and then summer came. We entered this school year with new regulations, rules, and provisions designed to help keep our school virus-free. The rules worked; we have not had a major COVID-19 outbreak at Westminster this year. But we wonder if next year might look closer to what we call “normal.” 

Leslie Ann Little, the Assistant Middle School Head for Academic Programs, makes sure to emphasize “[Westminster is] going to count on the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] and the science for the very best guidelines.” She says that many of the restrictions will rely on the vaccination status in Georgia. “The next tier [for vaccinations] is going to be that 12 to 15 [age category], but knowing that that wouldn’t include the bulk of our incoming sixth-graders,” comments Little, “how do we manage that? Do we try to keep them in a certain part of the building and let everybody else have something that looks a little closer to normal? Or do we have to all continue to stay masked and three feet apart for the safety of everybody in the building?” This potential for a separated Middle School would be a first and might upend the way the sixth grade operates.

We will probably start the year with masks next year, but this policy might change. “For the safety of everybody in the building, I think we are anticipating the potential to enter the school year masked,” says Little. But these restrictions might ease based on state and CDC provisions.

We are, however, likely to revert back to a more familiar schedule. “We hope to go to a five-day schedule because we feel like the transitions are safe now that we’re down to three [three-foot distancing]. So Monday will just be Monday, instead of the seven-day rotation,” says Little. “We’ll go back to five days.” This schedule shift will be more traditional for the Middle School, and the class lengths will be shorter. She explains “What we’re also trying to do is see if we can move Office Hours into a 30-minute slot in the middle of the day so it’s not competing with athletics.”

Lunchtime logistics are still being worked out. “We would love to potentially be able to return to Malone [Dining Hall] to have lunch there with hot-lines and no Sterno,” says Little, “but we need to make sure again that it’s safe for us to be in there in that number and that we can be appropriately spaced.” 

All in all, next year will definitely be different than this year. Little especially makes sure to emphasize that the guidelines and state regulations are what will influence the experience of the students next year.