SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Bells are ringing again, and students are back in the classroom at St. Vincent’s Academy, prepared with pencils, notebooks and masks.
The school closed its doors back in March when the pandemic began and since then has been developing a reopening plan for this academic year.
Mary Ann Hogan, President of St. Vincent’s Academy, says their planning began back in April and was guided by science in order to keep students and staff safe.
“The social and emotional disconnect that the girls have had since March has been a huge concern,” said Hogan. “And that creates a lot of anxiety, especially with teenagers. And so just getting back onto campus was very important for us.”
Aside from a mandatory mask rule, the school has implemented a number of new measures to prevent any outbreak within the school community.
Every morning, the roughly 300 students at the all-girls academy get temperature checks before entering the main part of campus.
Doors into classrooms are divided between one for entry and the other for exit. Stairwells are divided to split up traffic going up and down. Water fountains are capped so no one contaminates them. Hand sanitizer has been placed in just about every hallway and room.
Students are being allowed to go out and eat in some of the squares near campus in order to allow for proper social distancing inside the lunch room.
The school even installed ionizer devices to filter the air in classes, created their own COVID-19 tracing team, and installed webcams for virtual learning for students who stay at home.
Hogan says school officials decided err on the side of caution because there’s no set blueprint to follow for this.
“I think this process is evolving,” she said. “We are big on research and looking at best practices. We hope to be the leaders in the processes.”
She says the response from parents, staff and students has been positive, mainly because parents really wanted students to just return to school.
“It’s one day at a time,” said Hogan. “But as long as we’re putting the health and safety of our students first, we’re going to be okay.”