Stopping the spread: Safety tips for students


By Johanna Duda and Hiba Samdani, Staff Reporter and Photography Editor

After seeing friends or family over a Zoom call or at a small gathering, students now commonly use the phrase “stay safe” in place of a good-bye. Now that students are in the building, staying safe has become more important than ever. Here are some tips for students to remember as they navigate the 2020-2021 school year.  

Bring an Extra Mask 

Students all over the country have been told countless times to wear a mask. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA, wearing a mask lowers the risk that you will catch the COVID-19 virus and lowers the risk of you spreading it. The facts can’t be argued against, and many people in America wear masks either by choice or by law in some settings. Sophomore Moksha Chejerla does not feel comfortable when she sees others neglecting to wear a mask. 

“I want to stay away (from people who do not wear a mask) because not taking the precautions just gives the vibe of them not caring for the pandemic at all,” Chejerla said. “It is such a shocker for me when I see someone not have a mask in public areas with lots of people.” 

 But what happens if students forget their mask? When this happens, they’re putting themselves and others around them at risk for the virus, and on top of that, they might not be let into certain public places. A simple fix for this is to bring an extra. They could keep their spare in their backpack, car or wallet. Some serious problems have simple solutions. 

Find Alternatives to High Fives 

It’s not a secret that when people high five, they have to get at least 6-feet near each other. It’s also not a secret that when people get within 6-feet of each other, they’re at risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. During these hard times, it can be nice to celebrate the small victories with a friendly high five. However, the CDC advises people to practice social distancing to prevent further transmission of the virus. So, instead of risking the safety of students, an effective alternative is air high fives. During times like these, it’s of the utmost importance to keep the safety of others a priority. Conestoga Sophomore, Yash Iyer shared his views on the matter.  

“I’ve seen a few people (not socially distant) and it just makes me feel that they’re not taking it seriously at all. I think it’s a selfish thing to do really,” Iyer said. 

Stay on the Blue Lines 

Last year students were advised to stay between the blue lines to avoid a collision with a swinging open door. Now, if students stayed between these lines, it would be nearly impossible to stay 6-feet apart in the hallways. Because of these different circumstances, it is important for students to remain on these blue lines to practice social distancing in the hallways. However, it may seem difficult to social distance with the increasing enrollment of students at Conestoga. Health and gym teacher John Jones advises that students make a communal effort to social distance in the hallways and outside of school because it will allow for them to protect themselves and others around them.

“Tell students to continue to take their precautions; it’s not just for themselves. It’s for everyone around them to wear your mask at all times, to make sure you’re keeping your distance, to do this not only when you’re at school, but wherever you are,” Jones said.  

Wipe Down your Cell Phone 

Every day, we hear teachers and parents remind us to frequently wipe down high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, chairs, and desks. However, there may be one surface that we are neglecting: our cell phones. Already, thousands of germs survive on the surface of your phones, and COVID-19 has added to the list. After opening doors in the school and sitting down on different desks throughout the day, it would be helpful by giving your phone an additional wipe. Health teacher James Moran uses a special machine called a phone soap to clean his phone. Although he had the device before COVID-19, it has been helpful with keeping his phone clean.  

“It has the fluorescent lighting. You put your phone in there and close the top and it cleans it,” Moran said. “We use it because, I mean, your phone is everywhere – it’s in your pocket, on your desk.” 

Although students might not always be sharing their cell phones while with friends, the germs that are on them can get onto fingers, and then whatever those fingers touch. 

“You should take the necessary measures to make sure that in case you do have the virus, that it doesn’t spread. So, I think people should wipe their phones down,” Iyer said.

Take the Health Screening Seriously 

Before arriving to school, students and staff are required to complete a health screening to ensure that they do not display symptoms of COVID-19. However, not only is completion of the screening important, but so is familiarity with the symptoms. The district advises that students alert them if the student is awaiting a test or if they display symptoms of COVID-19.  

“If everybody in the district works together and is honest when they fill out the form, and (doesn’t) come to school when (they are) sick or coughing, it helps,” Conestoga School Nurse Kimberly Meade said. 

Remind and Reinforce 

Despite the various posters hanging in the hallways, it can be easy to forget many of these precautions and students have a tendency to revert to normality.  

“I think that, sometimes there’s a sense that we’ve been in this for a while and you might have a sense of comfort or you might relax a little bit,” Jones said. 

However, with cases on the rise at local and national levels, it is necessary to be in a mindset in which you know the importance of the matter.

“If they forget it, it probably means that they don’t think it’s a pressing issue. I think they should be reminded that it is a really huge issue in this country. Once they get into that mindset that it’s not a joke, then they will start remembering,” Iyer said.

It is important to continue to follow these procedures and remind others to follow them, too.  “You might not be someone who was comfortable calling someone out for not wearing a mask. You might not have been someone who always was thinking to wash her hands every day, but you need to be that person,” Conestoga teacher, Benjamin Smith said. “In being that person, you have decided to care about other people.”