The ‘New Normal’

School year gets under way with a different look, safety protocol

September 6, 2020

Not too close for comfort

Imagine your principals walking around with 6-foot sticks poking the students.

Well that is a reality at Stratford Academy.

Gazebo Photo by Megan Huynh

Head of Upper School Mrs. Theresa Ferrari said  the student body is doing very well with the new social distancing rules,

She said students are, for the most part, abiding by the rules indoors. It’s when students are socializing with friends outside of the classroom where the issues could be brought up. 

She said she does not believe these rules will be relaxed within the first semester back at school, she mentioned how “we will not eradicate it without a vaccine.”

Of course, the school has no control over students and faculty when they are off-campus,.

tudents and faculty disregard all the precautions off campus,. Mrs Ferrari said she struggles with thaton a daily basis. She takes the precautions seriously and all the measures Stratford is taking is for those who do worry about the virus and so that they feel safe coming back to school in person. 

Even the trumpets have to wear masks

In the Stratford marching band, even the instruments have to wear masks.

This year’s band and color guard have taken measures to  students are as safe as they can be while having fun.

Courtesy of Stratford Band

Ms. Laura Voss, Stratford’s band director, explained just how different the band was this year, and how they are taking sanitation and social distancing very seriously. Ms. Voss is following the guidelines by the Center for Disease Control, Georgia Music Educators Association and others.

 “If you’re indoors, you can only play indoors for 30 minutes,’’ Ms. Voss said. “And then you have to leave the room for at least 20 minutes to let the air completely recirculate.”

 Band students are not the only ones wearing masks. It’s their instruments, too. 

“You have to wear bell covers which are like masks that go on the ends of the instruments and then the people who are blowing through instruments also have to wear a surgical mask with a hole in it for the stem of their mouth piece to stick through,’’ Ms. Voss said.

Because of social distancing and the number of band members, the band room is too small to accommodate rehearsals.  The band now practices 6 feet apart across the stage and sit in chairs spread out in the Henry Tift Fine Arts Auditorium. The color guard is holding its practices in the band room.

 As something festive, band members  have marked their chairs with their favorite shirts. The marching band is still planning to perform its new show called “Fearless’’ at football games during halftime this year.

When you don’t want to get a 100

If you make 100 on a test, you get an “A.”

But if you come to school with a “100” on your forehead, they will send you home.

Gazebo Photo by Caroline Crick

Members of the faculty take temperatures of all the students and administration as they walk in the door each morning.

 “I think it is a good idea to take temperatures because we need to keep our school safe and it’s also important so we stay in-person rather than distance learning,” freshman Ginna Ross said. 

The various places students and administration can get a temperature check is any door that has key card access. The policy for sending someone home is a 100.4-degree fever or above, but the thermometers run slightly low so anywhere in the 99 degrees range is a bit of a concern as well.

 “The temperature checks are going extremely well,’’ Upper School Principal Mrs. Theresa Ferrari said. 

“The rule for a fever is that if a person has a 100.4 fever or above, the thermometer sets off an alarm, we then set the person off to the side, and recheck in 5 minutes, if it persists to be high they are sent to the nurse.”

Lunch, break play by different rules

Among the changes students and teachers have had to make has been lunch and break. Since the students can not wear masks while they are eating, maintaining social distance becomes especially important.

Gazebo Photo by Caroline Crick

Students can eat in the cafeteria, outside, in the Daws Student Activities Center, Room 128, several classrooms, and the science building. Wherever students decide to eat they must social distance.

“The students that have been choosing to eat indoors have been doing quite well distancing themselves from each other, the kids outside are having more difficulties, though,’’ Upper School Principal Mrs.Theresa Ferrari said.

Inside the buildings there are designated spots which she believes it helps students distance. She said students sitting in the new chairs outside have also been staying away from each other, but it is hard to get students sitting outside at tables and benches to maintain their distance.

 “Overall though I feel they are doing a good job adjusting to this new policy,” Mrs. Ferrari said.

 She also said she is pleased with the variety of food the lunchroom has offered.

Mask policy proving effective

One of the new policies requires all students from third grade to 12th grade to wear masks. Students cannot have any design on their masks. Only plain colors are allowed. People who forget their mask can go to Upper School Administrator Mrs. Robin Schorr’s office to receive a new mask.

Freshman Suhani Viradia believes the mask policy is necessary.

Freshman Suhani Viradia

“The masks protect both others and ourselves,’’ she said. “It is sometimes difficult to wear masks during class since it gets really uncomfortable, but I understand why we do it.” 

Suhani considers the mask policy “very effective,” and said she would not change anything about it.

“I think the students have been very compliant in general with it [the mask policy],’’ Head of Upper School Mrs. Theresa Ferrari said. 

Mrs. Ferrari said when she catches a student wearing their mask down multiple times, the school will switch that student to distance learning if they do not start complying with the mask policy after several warnings. 

Masks are for sale at the Eagle Nest.

No hanging out in locker bays

This year, lockers have been a thing of the past for Stratford Academy upper-school students.

Gazebo Photo by Staff Archives

Lockers have not been individually assigned to students as a precaution against the rise of the virus. Students now must carry all of their books around with them, but many teachers have been willing to keep textbooks in their rooms instead of making the students carry them.

Upper-school principal, Mrs. Theresa Ferrari  believes that the decision to not have lockers this year has been  beneficial in keeping the spread on Covid cases to zero but also has been beneficial to keeping the hallways less crowded and a better flow of traffic has been noted.

School officials have allowed students to place books in lockers if they are too cumbersome to carry but wants to keep the lockers bays free from being a “hang-out zone”.

Student await decisions on activities

Homecoming? Powderpuff? Will any of these happen this year?

Powder Puff game from 2019 (Gazebo Photo by Staff Archives)

Stratford students wait in excitement every year for these traditions and events. This year, it’s a little different. Students are waiting anxiously to find out if any of these will even happen.

As of now, no dances will be happening in the first semester because of COVID-19. All options of where dances would normally be held, are not allowing any dances at their venues.

 “Stratford would like to try and have dances, if we can find a place that will let us have the dance,’’ Head of Upper School Mrs. Theresa Ferrari said.

 Mrs. Ferrari said Powderpuff is still being discussed by faculty and how Stratford can have a safe powderpuff game. The game was scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 30 during homecoming week. A set date or time has not been announced.


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