Regina Sets Standard for In-Person Learning During Pandemic

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A Panther sticker on the ground to help students keep social distancing. Photo/RD Yearbook Staff

Rachel McElhatton, Staff Reporter

It is obvious that COVID-19 has had a massive effect on our school systems. Most schools, public and private alike, in the United States have switched fully to e-learning. This has had a major impact on students’ mental health, social lives, and academics.

It is plain to see that in-person face to face learning is preferable to e-learning, but that is impossible for most schools with the current pandemic. There are however a select few schools that have found ways to teach in-person to their students that are safe and effective. One of these schools is Regina Dominican.

Wilmette’s Regina Dominican is a private, Catholic, all-girls high school that has been educating young women since 1958. They are also one of the few schools in the Chicago area that offers in-person learning. The school has taken lots of precautions to ensure that all students stay safe, happy, and healthy.

The high school had its first day of school on Aug 24, 2020. This was no ordinary first day of school, though. The students began their first day by lining up outside the building. Each person was standing on a bright blue circle, all of which were six feet apart. These large circular stickers can be found all around the school. They help the students to maintain a six-foot distance at all times. 

After the students entered the building, they came to a health checkpoint. This checkpoint must be passed by each student and faculty member every day. This checkpoint involves answering an extensive questionnaire. The questionnaire asks about how the student feels, how their family’s health is, and if they have been in contact with anyone who might have COVID-19. It also asks if the students have any symptoms of COVID-19, such as a headache, fever, or stomach ache. If a student says yes to any of these questions they must go home immediately. Once at home the student will attend classes via live stream on google classroom. 

Once students get to their respective classrooms, they must wipe down their desk and chair with a disinfectant wipe. This is done in each class, each period. This is done to kill any germs that previous students left on the surfaces. 

All of the desks in each classroom are spaced six feet apart. This is done so that the students can stay at a safe distance from each other at all times. The spacing of the desks is remeasured and repositioned every weekend.

Students must also keep a mask securely on their mouth and nose at all times. The only time during the day the students take their masks off is at lunch or outside during a pre-designated ten-minute mask break. At both of these times, the students are six feet apart. In the lunchroom, this is done by keeping the tables ( one student per table) six feet apart. Outside, it is more difficult to keep students at safe distances. The school set up tents and faculty members to make sure there is proper social distancing by patrolling the space during lunchtime. If they spot any students closer than six feet, they quickly correct them. 

Regina has hired more staff and has employed the school nurse full time. Of course, the school’s number one priority is the safety of all.

Vice-Principal Mrs. Allworth said, “our commitment is to provide a safe in-person learning experience for the entire community.”

Regina is a shining example of how students can thrive during a pandemic. With a detailed plan to prepare for in-person learning and a little luck, other schools can learn from Regina during this time of uncertainty.