Passing Periods During the Pandemic

Regular+passing+period+at+Olympia+High+School.

Regular passing period at Olympia High School.

Antony Ponomarev, Journalist

Returning to normal life following a pandemic proves its own challenges. “As a school we are doing considerably better than most other schools in the county and possibly the state,” says Marco Viniegra, Vice Principal at Olympia High School. Although he’s proud of how Olympia has handled COVID-19, he feels as though improvements can still be made. Viniegra believes that within classrooms and lunchtime, guidelines are being enforced and therefore followed pretty strictly. That being said, he believes that passing periods prove the most challenging. Although Viniegra also feels that with the current knowledge of COVID-19, passing periods aren’t as dangerous as they might feel. He says that “generally speaking, no one is at risk if they are exchanging space with other humans for under 15 minutes.” Since passing periods are at most, 10 minutes, Viniegra believes that guidelines are being followed.

This doesn’t mean that OHS shouldn’t look to improve things. As of right now, Viniegra says that certain areas within the school pose a higher risk since students tend to pause and socialize. These areas are the biggest area of concern. Agreeing with Viniegra, Sriram Pathi, senior at Olympia High School, believes that, “lots of people crowd.” Both Viniegra and Pathi think that the groups of students in the hallway need to be shuffled along to keep traffic going. Furthermore, Pathi claims that a shorter passing period could prove beneficial in its own way since students will be forced to keep moving. Unfortunately, passing periods are already cutting it close due to the size of Olympia High School so this isn’t a viable option. 

As of right now, Viniegra says there aren’t going to be any changes to passing periods. Instead, he looks to target the problem locations within the school. He, along with the other administration at Olympia High School, travel the school during passing periods and look to move the groups of students. This has proved relatively effective, Viniegra says, but the administration has to shuffle students along nearly every day. ASB is looking for a potentially more long-term solution. Grace Clarke, ASB president at Olympia High School, does extensive work on the announcements. These announcements, seen by a large majority of the student body, pose an opportunity for reminders, updates, and news. ASB has made a huge effort to remind the student body at Olympia High School of all the precautionary measures that should be taken. Things like social distancing, correct mask-wearing, and moving in the hallways have all been topics of discussion. Clarke hopes that these reminders have been helpful and will continue to be helpful as students watch and follow the reminders. Dealing with a global pandemic proves its challenges, but Olympia High School has done and will continue to do everything in its power to keep its students, teachers, and staff safe.