Mehlville Switches to In-Person Learning Four Days a Week


Photo by Mehlville School District

School cafeterias have designated seating to make sure students keep distance while eating.

     On Feb. 25, Superintendent Dr. Chris Gaines announced that high schools will be going in person four days a week. This had already been implemented in the elementary and middle schools. 

          The elementary schools were brought back to four days a week on Jan. 19 and the middle schools on Feb. 16.  With the Covid-19 numbers declining, this should be a good decision, but it is doing more harm than good.

     The main concern is about social distancing. It will be difficult to social distance when class numbers are increasing. Students will need to be more careful when taking a drink of water or reaching for something out of their backpacks to make sure they are farther away from their peers. 

    With both cohorts back, the school will have 1,170 students in the building and 238 Mehlville-At-Home students. The building is at about 85% capacity. 

     Lunches also cause worry for students. The highest lunch is currently at 230 students and the lowest is 180. There will be many students who are eating and talking without masks in close proximity to other students. 

     Another concern is the hallways and stairways. During passing time, the hallways are flooded with students and the problem will only get worse when the other half of the school is here. 

     The bathrooms are still only two bathrooms per floor even though more students are in the building. On the week of Feb. 25, the bathroom limit was three people but by the end of the week, it was bumped up to five. 

     The pandemic has been hard on everyone, especially students. A year of learning virtually, economic struggles and limited social interaction have worsened the stress teens already face on a day-to-day basis. 

     For student’s mental health, the constant changing of schedules can be harsh. According to the American Psychological Association, 31% of teens reported feeling overwhelmed due to stress. The schedule changes have amplified the stress teens face every day.  

     On March 12, Dr. Gaines announced that middle and high schools will be moving to five days a week on April 19. I believe that even though the Covid numbers are decreasing, we should be learning online. If the district wants to bring back in-person learning, it should be in Plan B: blended model.     The district should be following what the CDC recommends. The threat of another surge in cases is possible.