“Stay Positive, Test Negative” is the new motto broadcasted throughout the halls of Boulder High, encouraging students to stay safe and not lose hope in these very strange times. (Isabel Oliver)
“Stay Positive, Test Negative” is the new motto broadcasted throughout the halls of Boulder High, encouraging students to stay safe and not lose hope in these very strange times.

Isabel Oliver

Am I a Lamb to The Slaughter? Going Back to School after 11 Months of Online Learning

March 7, 2021

In January of 2021, as students rushed back to populate Boulder High’s halls, I published an article titled “Like Lambs to the Slaughter; Going back to In-Person learning Feels Like We’re Being Thrown to the Wolves.” In it, I questioned the district’s decision to send us back and criticized the way we were being encouraged to return to what seemed like a not-so-safe situation. Yet, just a month later, I changed my mind. I decided to attend in-person learning halfway into the quarter.

Students are instructed of seating capacities by little signs attached to every table in the near-empty library. (Isabel Oliver)

But what changed? When I wrote the article, I was almost positive that students would once again begin catching COVID-19 and large sections of our student body and staff would need to quarantine. But so far in the past month, Boulder High has only had one positive case that required 13 students to be quarantined. Every other case has been caused by exposure outside of school and has allowed the rest of their classmates to continue attending school. With a new quarantining policy and extra safety measures, returning to school this time around seemed much safer than it did this fall.

Going back to school feels different than a normal year. There are a quarter of the students, the beloved senior lot (the slot) is virtually empty and there are stickers pasted to the floor in the hallways reminding students to stay six feet apart at all times. Students are required to fill out a health check prior to entering the building and then enter through alphabetically assigned doors one by one. The tables in the cafeteria and the library that in a usual year would have 8-10 students crowded around now have a holding capacity of only one or two. Becky is no longer serving her famous Chai behind the library desk, and Chromebook carts pile around the doors to the cafeteria.

HEPA Filters, like this one, outfit many BHS classes especially in rooms like the orchestra/choir room and auditorium where individuals are singing. (Isabel Oliver)

However, many things are still the same. Students still meet in the courtyard in-between classes, comparing war stories about their second periods and commiserating about the epic highs and lows of high school football. Seniors still crowd (socially distanced) in the slot to meet with their peers for lunch. And most importantly, students and staff alike populate the halls, laughing, chatting and showing their love for being a part of the Boulder High community. 

New safety and cleaning measures have also been implemented. As mentioned earlier, every student has to fill out a health check every morning before entering the building. Many rooms are outfitted with HEPA Filters and teachers are required to sanitize seats in between classes. Desks are spaced apart from each other and there is a plastic shield protecting teachers and students from one another. 

Students are also tracked throughout the building for contact tracing measures. There are QR codes to be scanned during bathroom breaks and attendance is taken every day to detail who is in class and who isn’t. It’s also straightforward to attend class online if you’re feeling under the weather or are snowed in like many students have been this past couple of weeks.

Every classroom has a QR code posted to the door for contact tracing. (Isabel Oliver)

With very few people in each class and social distancing enforced, it’s no wonder that the case numbers have stayed low. The only people you get close to are those you choose to eat lunch with, usually people already in your pod. While I imagine this may change when we begin attending school four days a week after spring break, for now, Boulder High feels empty and safe. 

I don’t want to rescind or apologize for my original stance on returning to hybrid learning but rather update my opinion. At the time (before hybrid learning had begun), it seemed that students and staff were being thrown to the wolves to appease school board politics with very few changes to the system that failed so drastically in the fall. Yet, going back worked and very few students have had to be quarantined. BVSD and Boulder High administrators worked better, keeping us safer and allowing us to return to four days a week safely. Going back to school is a decision between an individual and their family, but I wish I could have told myself how safe it feels and saved myself months of sitting alone in my room. So no, I am not a lamb to the slaughter. Just a high school senior excited to be back in person. 

Photo of Isabel Oliver
Isabel Oliver, Features Editor

Isabel Oliver is a senior at Boulder High this year. Although new to The Owl, she has always loved writing and literary arts. Isabel grew up with an Editor in Chief for a mother and has always been fascinated by the inner workings of journalism. Isabel joined The Owl to improve her journalistic writing and to report on current events that she’s passionate about. Outside of The Owl, you can find Isabel acting with Troupe 60, singing in the choir, reading a good book, watching copious amounts of Netflix, or jamming with her band. After graduating from Boulder, she hopes to go to college and become either a therapist or a social worker - although she’s leaning towards liberal arts, so that’s...

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