Midtown implements Covid-19 protocols


Sophia Maxim

Some students have been required to quarantine and do online schooling while sick with Covid-19 or symptoms.

Tori Williams

With the return of in-person school and the rise in Covid-19 cases, the safety and health of Midtown students and staff is one of the top priorities for the school year. To help stop the spread of the virus, protocols have been put in place by Atlanta Public Schools.

According to APS guidelines, if a student at Midtown tests positive for Covid-19, their parent or guardian must inform Principal Dr. Betsy Bockman and nurse Wanda Taylor.

“The parents usually call and contact us, and so then we start the contact tracing,” said Taylor. “We will contact the teachers and check the seating charts and see where they sat, and those people that are in front, beside or behind those that say they ate lunch with them are considered close contact.”

The school also offers free Covid-19 testing every Friday to students with parent permission. Some students, including junior Jeffrey Hallett, have gotten tested  at school.

“My mom first said she wanted me to get tested every Friday; I was kind of hesitant because past times it had been irritating,” Hallett said. “But the testing at school has been really easy.”

To be considered close contact, a student must have been sitting within six feet of the person for at least 15 minutes. Letters are sent home to the parents of students considered in close contact, alerting parents to the possible exposure. Whether or not a student is vaccinated determines if they need to quarantine at home for 10 days. 

“If you are vaccinated, you don’t have to quarantine, unless you have symptoms,” Taylor said. “The unvaccinated person has to quarantine, symptoms or not.”

When a student has to quarantine from home, they are required to attend class virtually and are provided with Zoom links for each of their classes. 

“I do have students who are at home, quarantining, and what I do is I open up zoom on my laptop and I just put the laptop at the very front of the classroom so that it is sort of looking up at me and you can kind of  see the board,”  Latin teacher Scott Allen said.

Similar to teachers’ experience with the hybrid learning model adopted in March of last year, teachers are finding it harder to make sure the people at home understand the material as well as the in-person students do.

“Last year we had some kids come back, but the majority of my students were virtual, so I catered my instruction to the majority of the students who are virtual,” Allen said. “This year, the majority are here; so, if I have only one or two students on Zoom, I mean I hate to admit this, but my energy and focus is going to be on the students in front of me.”

Teachers are still doing their best to make sure all kids are grasping the material.

“I am still posting stuff … there are times when I go to try and check in on the students to make sure they are okay,” Allen said.  “I send the documents to them separately ahead of time. So, for the kids at home, I hope they can learn something so that when they come back I can try to catch up with them.”

Teachers aren’t the only ones who seem to be having trouble with the new Zoom process. Junior Wesley Urda tested positive for Covid-19 before the start of school and had to stay home for the first two days of classes. 

“I found out my uncle tested positive on Thursday, July 30, and I tested positive the next day,” Urda said. “My mom then notified the school, and I was told I had to take classes online for the first few days.”

Since it was the beginning of the school year and teaching on Zoom and in the classroom was still new to teachers, Urda had difficulty when trying to get into class.

“I took my classes on Zoom, but many of my teachers didn’t let me into my classes,” Urda said. “On top of that, because it was the first day of the Zoom set-up, often I couldn’t see or hear the teacher.”

Switching back and forth between virtual and in-person has proven a challenge to students and teachers. 

“It’s definitely been a rollercoaster, but I am glad that the majority of the students are able to be back in the building,” Allen said. “It is a refreshing change from seeing black boxes every day.”