A one-on-one press conference in the Ocean Lakes newsroom helped clear up a few questions students had about returning to school after the pandemic. Questions were compiled by the student body via an Instagram poll and vetted by The Current’s features editor. Dr. Claire LeBlanc shared a few responses with the entire news team on Oct. 21.
1. Will staff crackdown on students who don’t follow social distancing rules?
LeBlanc: “To the greatest extent possible, the administration, faculty, and staff enforce appropriate social distancing. The recommendation is three feet between masked individuals. Since students relax their masks to eat, we try to extend the distance between two students to six feet in the cafeteria.”
2. What is the reason One Lunch, an hour-long lunch period for all students, disappeared?
LeBlanc: “One Lunch is not deemed safe with the current COVID-19 mitigations in place. However, we will revisit One Lunch when the metrics allow.”
3. What is the chance One Lunch will return?
LeBlanc: “There is a strong possibility that One Lunch will return when we are no longer required to wear a mask and social distance.”
4. Why did we switch up the hall passes to digital e-hall passes?
LeBlanc: “The digital passes allow us to monitor who is out of class, for how long, and how often, easy reporting of who was on a pass at the same time as Student X, over any period, and it limits passes by student, location, and even set building-wide limits. It also limits the number of passes to specific locations, easily encourages social distancing protocols, maintains safeguards with the suite of intuitive features, and assists with contact tracing; a no-touch hall pass system prevents the spread of germs and easily identifies how many passes specific locations have received to prioritize sanitation schedules.”
5. When do you think in-person pep rallies will return?
LeBlanc: “Not until we are not so concerned about the spread of the virus and conducting contact tracing. Until then, we need to avoid any perceived or possible “super spreader” events.”
6. Since the homecoming dance is canceled, what is VBCPS going to do about future dances?
LeBlanc: “As time goes on and the numbers of COVID cases decline, the school division will revisit dances (i.e., Ring Dance, Prom).”
7. A lot of the students in the school think that the dress code is sexist and should be changed, do you think it should change or stay the same?
LeBlanc: “Ocean Lakes is currently upholding the School Board policy on dress code. The dress code was recently revised to be gender-neutral and more ethnically sensitive. The dress code is the same for all students regardless of sex or sexual identity. All students, staff, and community members deserve a rigorous, respectful, safe educational and work environment where diversity is valued and contributes to achieving positive academic and social outcomes. As principal, I am responsible for establishing and communicating a clear and fair dress code that complies with applicable law, policy, and regulation. Our administration is willing to talk to students who have questions or concerns.”
8. Will there be a ring ceremony for juniors?
LeBlanc: “I’m hoping that in the spring, we can revisit it. Once cases go down things will slowly start to open. Come May, things may open up. I’m hoping we can pull that one off.”
9. What happened to the school lunches this year?
LeBlanc: “There is a significant shortage of cafeteria workers, and we have added a lunch period. In addition, national labor shortages are impacting the food industry. These issues are finding their way into our food service as suppliers and manufacturers struggle to meet demands. Local distributors are frequently unable to deliver complete orders. Paper trays, to-go containers, produce, beef, chicken, and milk have all been subject to shortages, and we sometimes learn about them on delivery day. That means an occasional, quick change on the menu to continue to provide healthy and complete meals for our students.”