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After 7 months, students and teachers prepare for the return to campus

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Photo: Abby Headstrom

Henry Buscher washes his hands in the new sinks in the Classroom Building.

Over 225 days ago, University Prep students left campus on what would be their last regular school day. Now, students are returning to campus, but it won’t be the same.
The school implemented many changes and protocols so that the community remains safe while returning to campus. For the time being, students must remain on campus for lunch, and will not be able to order food to campus.
“(Lunch) will be in a grab-and-go format,” Director of Global Programs and Co-Chair of the COVID-19 task force Brian Gonzales said. “The idea would be that students would come into the Commons Cafe, grab their lunch and go somewhere. What they grab will be a rotating selection of items with different options based on dietary needs.”

Adjusted to fit the COVID-19 protocol, the seating will look different as well.
“We have a lot of different options about what seating will look like, but it all depends on who is on campus,” Gonzales said.

After visiting UPrep, I definitely feel a lot better. They’re taking a lot of steps to make us feel safe.”

— ASB Vice President Joseph Yeung.

Aside from lunch, community time will also look very different than it has before. Students will not be able to wander around and do their work wherever they want.
“My understanding is that the plans that we’ve put in place need to allow for contact tracing,” Associate Director of Upper School Sarah Peterson said.
Contact tracing is required because, if a student gets sick, other students they came in contact with could have potential exposure.
“We need to have a record of which students were around each other during community time, which kind of takes off the table any sort of option that is like what community time has looked like in the past,” Peterson said.
Students will be on campus based on their grade and their groups, which were announced Oct. 19. Since a limited number of students can be on campus at a time, most community activities will remain virtual.
“The working model that we’ve been talking about is essentially having community time continue to be how it is in an all-virtual model, where it would be a weekly schedule that you could participate in whether you are at school or at home that day and most of those meetings would be online,” Peterson said.

Much is still to be determined, but the plan at press time for community time is to have students in rooms based on advisory. Since there are more advisories than there are classrooms, the math and science offices may be occupied by advisories.
“The plan would be that you’d be assigned into a room probably based on your advisory, but not for sure, and that you would go to that room to engage with whatever kind of community time activities you would have scheduled,” Peterson said.
Though things will look different than last spring, many people are excited to be coming back to school, but many are worried about the pandemic.
“At first I was actually a little bit apprehensive given the times” ASB Vice President and senior Joseph Yeung said. “I didn’t know how things were going to run.”
ASB executives got the chance to visit UPrep and see the new additions to campus.