Schools Reopening: Stories From Around The Americas Pandemic

“You have to be extra careful about a lot of things,” she says after leaving him. “Hand sanitiser and everything – and don’t be too close to your friends or play like you used to.” – Ivan Moreno

8 a.m., Santa Monica High School

A cheerleader hurriedly approaches a Santa Monica High School gate, carrying a stepladder painted the school’s blue and gold colors. She takes it down to show a security guard her school ID and a “green screen” on her phone indicating that she has passed the daily Covid screening questionnaire. She’s in a hurry because it’s game day: the soccer team is playing against their long-time rival, Venice High School.

“Are you ready for Venice tonight?” Johanna De La Rosa, the school’s bilingual liaison officer, asks students approaching the gate while she helps check student IDs and green screens in the morning. That wasn’t a normal part of her job before the pandemic.

“Our teamwork on campus – it was so important for us to really understand that we really are a team, no matter what our titles are, and just pull together,” she says. Most of the around 2,850 students at the school, together with their teacher, are also tested for Covid weekly during class as part of a rotating monitoring plan.

Amara McDuffie, 14, fills out the Covid screening questionnaire on her phone as she walks to the gate. Your first grade is art. “It’s really fun. I don’t know anyone in the class. They’re a bunch of juniors,” says Amara. “It’s the usual class clowns, quiet kids and such. I think I like to see that again.”

Students begin to pick up their pace as it nears the 8:30 a.m. bell of the first lesson.

Lara Hunter, a 17-year-old newcomer to Santa Monica High, says she was told that any added hustle and bustle of Game Day activity “isn’t really something,” adds, “But I was from an art school, so” that is everything new to me. ”- Jessie Geoffray

8:10 am, Herbert Hoover High School

It’s the end of the second week of school at Hoover High and Jason Babineau, the headmaster, walks across campus yelling “Good morning” to the students. Suddenly he turns right and catches a flying soccer ball, then hits a soccer player with an elbow.


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