Anyone walking through the doors of Schaumburg High School will notice that things are a little different this year. The gym is no longer just for PE classes. The Showcase hallway no longer provides comfort for students with free periods. The cafeteria won’t be packed with students taking a full fifty minutes to eat their lunches. This school year, District officials created and implemented a plan to accomodate for Covid spacing restrictions.
Mainly, District officials needed to work with existing spaces to keep students in the cafeteria, south gym shelf, media center, and classrooms the required three feet apart. Decisions for these space changes come from the Board of Education and District Office. No decisions were made at school level.
In order to follow the Illinois Department of Health guidelines, students can take their masks off in the cafeteria in order to eat. When administrators ran calculations, they realized they needed more eating space. The cafeteria, therefore, was designated for juniors and seniors to eat.
“With regards to the cafeteria,” Mr. Cumings explained, “students need to be three feet apart in an eating space. The South gym shelf location was the only space big enough that we don’t use regularly.”
This led to the decision to have freshmen and sophomores eat there. Additionally, they only have half period lunches, which makes eating in the south shelf easier.
For students uncomfortable with only three feet spacing, there is a third space, room 5, for six feet spacing. As of right now, it is not heavily used.
Although not completely sure, “we speculate the rooms are not used because students have more friends in the cafeteria and that some upperclassmen eat off campus,” suggested Mr. Cumings.
Due to the uncertainties of the school year, the spacing constantly adapts. Administrators constantly look into appropriate sizing of spaces and assess traffic flow.
The media center is still being utilized for media center services: students can check out books, research during free time, before, and after school, receive tutoring for english, science, and use the adjoining room for math tutoring. Librarians have been meeting with classes to demonstrate what the media center offers. Food is no longer permitted in the media center.
The media center also hosts study hall, and passes are required for entrance. Passes have been valuable this year in contact tracing and possibly will be kept for future years as well. Using passes is a good practice and holds students accountable.
Not a lot of changes have been made concerning PE classes. There are now certain limitations for activities; students need to refrain from close contact activities and gym teachers try to get students outside as much as possible.
Many challenges rose while trying to work with guidelines. The main challenge was having enough space to space students out. PE, study hall, the music department, and lunch were the classes that were the hardest to find spaces for.
These changes could have some impacts on school culture. As Mr. Cumings explained, “newer students don’t get to use the cafeteria. We want to give opportunities in the future for them to use that space because using each facility as it’s meant to be used has a positive impact.”
Sophomore Bianca Spadlo expanded, “I wasn’t at school last year, so there’s really no difference. It’s just the norm, but lunch does feels rushed. I understand Covid restrictions, but it’s supposed a time to enjoy time with your friends. Being separated from others, it doesn’t give us as much chance to make new friends and build new connections.”
No one knows what the future holds or for how long these changes will remain, but if guidelines change, administrators would try to revert back to normal space usage.