VHS stays physically distanced, not socially
By Lucy Wing, Content Editor
For the past year and a half, schools around the country have been operating on various levels of online and hybrid learning. In the past two months, many schools have been transitioning to a fully in-person model. Vashon School District (VISD), like many districts, has operated in all three levels of learning. Going into the 2021-22 school year, VISD is fully in-person and following state guidelines on masking and social distancing.
For Vashon High School (VHS), one challenge has been balancing these safety guidelines while retaining a relative sense of community and normalcy.
“The parallel proclamation is that schools need to open in ways that are congruent with what the Department of Health is putting forward in terms of best recommendations,” assistant principal John Erickson said. “So there’s tension between those two proclamations; on the one hand we’re saying, ‘open schools,’ and on the other hand we’re in the midst of a slow-rolling conflict around what it look[s] like to be safe around one another.”
Opening schools at full capacity means yielding some social distancing requirements, as most schools are not built for students to be the recommended six feet from one another.
“You can’t fit everybody in classrooms… So, what the state did is said, ‘mmm, if we’re masking and doing that with [consistency], then we can alleviate some of the tension by saying it’s 3 feet,’ … so that’s what’s happened,” Erickson said.
VISD has been promoting a three feet distancing recommendation, but it is rarely enforced.
“If you’re going to have a 3 feet rule, enforce it. There’s no point in having a rule if you’re not going to enforce it because in the future when you put in another rule, people are going to be like ‘oh, it’s just like the last one where it means nothing,’” senior Max Barnecut said.
Whether rules are being adhered to or not, the administration is doing what they can to ensure the safety of all students, even if it means some of the social aspects of school are sacrificed.
“It is risk management; [we] have to balance how much risk we’re willing to accept with [the] freedom students should have and how much socialization people are able to do,” VHS English teacher Gavin Kovite said.
In the first six weeks, VHS has already faced many challenges, and while challenges will continue to arise throughout the year, students and staff remain positive.
“I think we’ll just continue to take the best advice that we can get; we’ll continue to stay flexible, continue to be ready to pivot, and we’ll continue to be ready to explain and be as transparent as we possibly can be about why we’re doing what we’re doing, and how it works to strike a balance between being as safe as humanly possible and being together!” Erickson said.