School year moving forward despite COVID chaos


Ty Harris, News Editor

The many changes in Baldwin’s school system have made the new school year strange for everyone. Despite complications from the COVID-19 pandemic, BHS administration is doing the best they can to make the learning environment safe for students.

“I feel the year is going as expected,” BHS vice principal Chad Brecheisen said. “It is great to have students back in the building. It will be great when the entire student body can attend all at the same time.”

In preparation for the school year, school administration did as much research and had as much discussion as they could to determine what safety precautions would be necessary to make the school year both safe and relatively ordinary for students.

Some of the high school staff has had more Zoom meetings than we can count over the summer to be sure that students and staff would be safe entering the building at the start of the school year,” district nurse Lisa Pattrick said. “We received recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Douglas County Health Department for the reopening of school, which helped in determining our plan for the high school and the rest of the district.”

Both students and staff are required to wear masks and keep a safe distance from others. Students’ temperatures are being taken every morning.

“We are checking temperatures of all students entering the building each morning to ensure that no one is entering the building with a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees,” Pattrick said. “Staff monitor their temperatures at home or in the school office and sign in on the wellness log daily.”

Students with last names A-L attend on alternating “A-days” and students with last names M-Z attend on alternating “B-days.” This way, only half the student body is in the building at one time, minimizing spread of the virus as much as possible.

Additionally, students were given the option at the beginning of the year to complete their school year completely online, which also has reduced the total number of people inside the building. The building is also undergoing a deep cleaning routine to reduce the spread of germs.

“A deep cleaning schedule has also been put into place so that classrooms and all other rooms in the building get a thorough cleaning on a regular basis,” Patrick said. “If we have had a student test positive, and they had been in the building or around other students 48 hours prior to having symptoms, the health department required that we quarantine all students and staff for 14 days that had been in contact with the positive case.”

Even though these regulations are strict and necessary, they have made the school environment an odd place for students.

It’s definitely different wearing a mask to school every day,” senior Taylor Flory said. “I miss being able to sit with a bunch of friends at lunch and having conversations without having to speak through a mask.”

Teachers as well as students are doing the best they can to adjust to these changes.

“Overall, the in-person enrollment numbers are down which helps fight spread of the virus,” business and computer programming teacher Tyler Wolf said, “but what has been hard is the unbalanced workload between the two different schedules. It has been a struggle to pace my lessons at the same rate when I have two students on A-day and 11 on B-day.”

Nevertheless, staff and students try to remain positive in light of this complicated situation.

“I feel that the school has done a great job with safety precautions,” sophomore Carly Armbrister said. “I am enjoying my smaller classes with the hybrid set-up.”

“I believe that everyone is doing their best given the situation we are in currently,” Wolf said. “I feel safe with the way we are operating right now and the measures put in place. It is not perfect but if everyone keeps on wearing their mask, washing their hands and social distancing, we should be just fine.”

School administration is doing the best that they can to make the school environment as normal and worry-free for everyone while ensuring their safety, as well.

“I feel like the measures taken were unusual and hard for students and staff to get used to at first,” Pattrick said, “but I think that the plan put into place has been very effective in controlling the spread of COVID in our building. I am proud of how hard everyone is working in helping to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It is making a difference.”

“We are making the most of every day,” Brecheisen said. “The only choice we have is to be as positive as possible and constantly look for ways to make things better on the fly.”