Administration implements safety precautions for students returning in-person


Photo by Henry Hays

Cafeteria worker Nayely González wipes down cafeteria tables between lunches. Cafeteria workers now conduct much more extensive cleanings, in response to COVID-19. “I was really worried about lunch personally when I envisioned coming back to school,” counselor Dr. Justin Fields said. “My initial thoughts have been good.”

Administration hired additional janitorial staff, increased cleaning procedures and implemented social distancing guidelines in an attempt to keep students who returned to campus on Sept. 8 safe.

“I am encouraged by the amount of work our administration has put into the building,” lead counselor Dr. Justin Fields said. “It makes me feel better, and it also makes my family feel better about me going to school. We are doing the best we can with the situation.”

LISD currently follows different levels of reopening: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green and Blue. Hebron is currently at level orange, the most restrictive level schools are allowed to reopen in, which calls for extensive mitigation and precautions.

“We’ve had to follow protocols given to us by the Denton County CDC, and the district with different levels of operations depending upon where the disease is in the county,” assistant principal Vanessa Zavar said. “We’ve had to come back in an ‘Orange’ category, so there was a series of outlines on what was required for teachers and students.”

The school has implemented one-way hallways, intended to reduce contact between people and crowding in hallways. Teachers also take turns monitoring areas of the school, such as bathrooms, to prevent students from gathering and minimize contact between people. 

“There is a lot of opportunity for student contact in this building,” Fields said. “The restrictions on hallway movements are very helpful, the restrictions on bathroom usage have also been helpful and water fountain usage being cut off was necessary.”

The janitorial staff have taken on a substantial workload this year, leading to the district hiring several new janitors to work on-campus to keep the school sterile. According to Zavar, the janitorial staff now completely sanitizes each classroom after school and wipes down common areas and hallways much more extensively.

“The hallways are fully sanitized each night,” assistant principal Linda Cragin said. “If we have areas that need a deeper cleaning, then we are able to call in a moment’s notice, and have [janitors] come out and make sure those areas are cleaned.” 

One of the largest concerns for reopening schools was how to make sure the cafeteria remains sterile for students to eat in. Hebron has limited the number of people sitting at cafeteria tables to three, food items are individually wrapped to be distributed and lunch lines have been spaced out to reduce contact.

“Cafeteria staff has increased as well,” Cragin said. “That gives us the opportunity to make sure those areas are cleaned more in-between lunches.”

Hebron was forced to implement extra precautions to deal with the influx of personnel due to large-scale construction. Open entrances have been limited to two, certain hallways have been closed off and staff parking have been relocated in certain areas. Through the first few weeks of school, several cases have been reported. New cases are reported weekly and updated on the LISD website.

“We’re going to do our very best to keep Hebron open,” Cragin said. “I think everyone working together is the key to that happening.”