ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — With the start of school around the corner, the principal of Sheridan High School provided an inside look into the school set-up under COVID-19 regulations.
Sheridan High School will use a blended model. Ninth and 10th grade students take their core classes in the morning in-person and electives online in the afternoon. They will leave before lunch. During the lunch period, maintenance staff will clean classrooms following CDC guidelines. After lunch, students in grades 11 and 12 will come for their core classes after taking their electives online in the morning. The school building will be closed on Mondays for a deep cleaning.
Students will be separated into 20-person cohorts. Cohorts will enter the building through different entrances to keep students separated. Before they enter, school staff will check students’ temperatures and screen them for COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be taken to a quarantine area as they wait for a parent or guardian to pick them up.
Inside the school, tape and cones show students in cohorts where they can and can’t walk. There are hand sanitizer dispensaries throughout hallways and classrooms.
The cohorts will only use 8 classrooms in the school to make sure maintenance staff have time to clean between cohorts. Sheridan High School Principal German Echevarria said they chose classrooms with the most windows to help with ventilation. Maintenance staff will routinely change air filters.
Students will stay inside the same classroom for all four core classes. Teachers will switch rooms to minimize student contact during passing time.
“If I am the math teacher, after my lesson is done, students will get a 5 minute break and then the English teacher will come into the room,” said Echevarria.
If someone is a cohort and gets COVID-19, the entire cohort will quarantine. However, Echevarria said it will be easy to transition students into online learning so students don’t miss out.
“Since we are providing 100 percent synchronized virtual, they are able to just go home and not miss a beat with instruction until we can have the individual student or adult get another COVID test and wait for their results. And if the results come back negative, that cohort can return,” said Echevarria.
Echevarria said a silver-lining of COVID-19 is the upgrades to technology for students and teachers.
“We have to find those small victories. To me it’s the equity issue of getting a device in every student’s hand, internet into the homes of students that didn’t have internet and then providing some transformative technology into the hands of our teachers that allows them to be more effective,” said Echevarria.
Echevarria said navigating all the changes has been challenging and credits three staff members for figuring out scheduling.
“Two counselors and my instructional coach. They must have been really good at Tetris when they were a kid because it’s just a puzzle that they have to manipulate the pieces to make it fit,” said Echevarria.
While a lot has changed, Echevarria applauds his staff for getting to this point.
“The professionalism of our teachers and the work they have put in to make this happen — I get a little emotional about that,” said Echevarria.