School Safety Issues

School+Safety+Issues

Luis Melendez Velez, Herald Staff Writer

On March 13, 2020, students were forced to leave school for almost two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. This was a sad and depressing period for students and their families. When it was announced that Zoom would be the main platform used for the 2020-2021 school year, it resulted in many students struggling to learn. Holyoke High School is back in person now, a year later. There are high expectations that this school year will be more positive for students while also being much safer. However, there are new safety concerns that many students are worried about.  

To begin with, students at HHS are not told to use hand sanitizer when they first enter the school, which should be a priority given that thousands of students are touching railings and other surfaces all day, which is extremely unsafe and unsanitary. As a student in a public school, knowing that school leaders and staff do not take responsibility for our safety concerns irritates me and makes me feel uncomfortable. This leads to my second point: NO TEMPERATURE CHECK! Instead of recruiting more vital staff members who can do important tasks such as checking students’ temperatures while they are walking in school, they are looking to hire additional custodians and unnecessary staff members. We as students try our hardest to keep our masks on and maintain social distance from our peers, but how can we do so when teachers and staff members don’t enforce any of the rules, especially around lunch? Not only are individuals seated at tables far too close together, but all of the tables are located indoors rather than outside, where it is safer. There are some tables outside where you can sit, but that is where the problem arises; you have a choice. Teachers do not require us to sit outside so we can have a safe and enjoyable lunch. In addition to this, there are only a few tables outside, which is not conducive to the number of students in the building. Furthemore, students are not required to wipe off our desks or tables after each class, despite the fact that others will be using them shortly after. We are also not required to sanitize our desks before sitting down, which I find disgusting. This makes me not want to go to school because I spend so much time with my family, including my grandparents, younger siblings, my stepfather who suffers from asthma and my father who suffers from high blood pressure. 

Having a clean school and disinfecting everything is extremely necessary and will keep us safe. However, these are not the only problems people have. I recently spoke with some of my friends and teachers and many of them expressed their concern about having to close doors during class because it poses a serious safety risk. Holyoke High policy states that during courses, doors may be left open. I understand that air needs to circulate in and out of the room, but that is why every single room has windows and a filtration fan. If there is a lockdown and the door is left open, it is extremely risky for anyone in the classroom. 

To sum everything up, I enjoy school. I get to see all of my friends and I get to study vital lessons at school. Should I, nevertheless, be concerned about my safety in a school setting? No? I don’t believe so. I believe that every single school in the world should recognize that we are living in difficult times and that we can no longer have classrooms with 30 students, and that we must keep our surroundings clean 99 percent of the time. Not following these safety precautions could lead to major consequences such as COVID outbreaks. Would a million new covid cases be created? Would the school have to be closed for two weeks? Is Zoom going to start up again? WOULD WE BE QUARANTINED ONCE AGAIN? We will never know for sure. That is why I implore the staff at HHS to create and maintain rigorous sanitation policies. It will keep the best interest of the students and administrators.