Kapaun Mt. Carmel is going back to school full time. At the beginning of this school year, administration at KMC decided to go to a hybrid schedule where half the students would go to school in the morning for three hours and the rest would go for the last three hours in the afternoon. Due to COVID cases decreasing and teachers being vaccinated, KMC is going back to a normal eight hour day with everyone at school. Some people are anxious or have doubts, while others are ready to go back. Some are a mix of both. They may want to see their friends again, but are fearful of COVID. According to a poll of 271 students, 79.7 percent of students chose “no” about whether or not the school should go back to the 8 hour schedule. 16.2 percent chose “yes,” and 4.1 percent chose “other.”
Principal Chris Bloomer says that the school will still follow health guidelines and do everything possible to keep students safe as KMC returns to Schedule One, the eight hour day with everyone at school. Wednesdays will still be off for students, and standardized testing will sometimes be scheduled on those days.
“We committed to keeping our students as safe as possible and in certain circumstances will go above and beyond what is expected to keep the students and faculty safe,” Bloomer said. “As we return March 22, we will continue many of the mitigations that have been in place up to this point. We will continue to temp upon entry, provide hand sanitizer and ask that students and faculty be masked. We will continue to clean the desks in between classes to provide a safe classroom environment. The only real change will be that we will not continue to have the six feet of distance. The quarantine guidelines were changed in February to distinguish high and low risk activities, stating that those participating in low risk activities would not have to be quarantined if they were a close contact of someone positive.”
According to Bloomer, multiple schedules were created at the beginning of the school year. Some of them had smaller lunches included. KMC will now be doing a four lunch schedule, whereas before the school had only three lunches. This will allow for people to be more spaced out; about 200 students will be in a lunch period at a time. If necessary, students will be allowed to eat outside (not go out to restaurants, but just outside the school); however, it will most likely not be needed. In addition, seniors will only be allowed to leave campus if they have “D” lunch. More information on the lunch schedule can be accessed on the Kapaun Mt. Carmel website under “Reimagined School Plan 2020-2021.”
Math teacher Marcus Carrillo believes it is a good idea to go back to the full time schedule.
“Personally, as a teacher, I think it’s great,” Carrillo said. “The kids are all back in the building, all together. I know the kids have been split in the morning and afternoon and they miss some of their friends because they don’t get to see them a whole lot. At the same time it’s kind of scary to go back to 90 minutes after being in [40 minute classes] for so long. Overall I think it’s good.”
Sophomore Elsa Steffen believes going back to normal will be good, but has some doubts regarding theater.
“I’m fine with having it go back to full time, but theater students are now going to be here from 7:50 in the morning because it’s Tech Week and then go home for an hour to change, be here until 10, and have final performances until that Sunday,” Steffen said. “It was just terrible timing because we have to focus on school and try to keep our grades up and homework is going to be a problem, but then we have this huge production going on that’s also taking up our focus and our time.”
Bloomer has a message for anyone who is anxious about the change.
“There have been two emails to our parents explaining the decision to go “All In,” Bloomer said. “Honestly, we simply followed the plan that was rolled out in August. The health of the building is better than it was in March of 2020, the faculty will be vaccinated, and quarantine guidelines have changed. At this point, we feel it’s safe to go back to school. To try and ease the anxiety of families and students, we are still tracking the health of our students and faculty and believe that the mitigations that we have in place will keep them safe.”
President of KMC Rob Knapp has his own message to anyone who is anxious about returning to school.
“The safety of our student body and faculty remains our top priority,” Knapp said. “Based on the information that we receive on a weekly basis from the Sedgwick County Department of Health, the State of Kansas, and the Centers for Disease Control, we believe that we can operate KMC in a safe manner at this time even with all students in the building at one time. Our mission is best accomplished with a full schedule for faculty and students, as we wrote in our Reimagined School Plan before the school year even started. When you combine these factors with the comfort and knowledge that, by March 27, all of the KMC faculty will have been afforded the opportunity to receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, we feel good about the decision to move the school to Schedule One.”
In the event that COVID cases should rise, KMC may go to an online or hybrid schedule. However, the building will most likely stay healthy so that change will not be necessary.
“I believe that we have completed our hybrid schedule for the year,” Bloomer said. “It’s time to return to school the way we know it and begin to address the academic and social needs of our students.”