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Second quarter to bring more face-to-face students


Photo by Caitlyn Agostine

Students listen as English teacher Elizabeth Halstead speaks to her class in August. When quarter two begins, 150 students will be coming face-to-face. (CAITLYN AGOSTINE | Alpha-Omega)


SNN Staff Writer

As October ends, and the first quarter comes to a close, about 150 online students are expected to return to Lakewood High School. That means the school, which currently has about 450 face-to-face students, will now have about 600, and about 375 will remain online.

The district, which had been allowing up to 20 students in classes, is now allowing up to 25 students in a face-to-face classroom, but the administration believes it will be able to accommodate everyone’s requests.

“I’m working on bringing as many students back to campus that we can safely have at this time,” assistant principal Joey Serra said. “Until a family receives confirmation, they should keep with their current program.”

Serra said families had to fill out a form by Oct. 6 on the Pinellas County schools website to request that their children be switched from online to campus or vice versa. He said he contacts the families to let them know if they can switch and when. He also said families don’t need a particular reason to switch, but if the reason is difficulties with technology, he tries to address that first and see if he can solve the issue.

Sophomore Nate Sosa-Jones, currently an online student, will be returning to school on Tuesday. (10/27)

“I think it will be safe for students, or as safe as possible for students, if we all keep our distance as much we can and wear masks and stay clean,” Jones said.

Still, he said he worries about the larger number of kids in a classroom.

“The entire time this quarantine has been going on the focus of it has been to social distance, and I feel that more kids in schools gets rid of that rule. But I am coming back to school because I can’t take this online school anymore,” Jones said.

/hile some plan to return, others feel that it is still unsafe and will remain online until at least second semester.

“My mom decided that it would be better to wait until COVID-19 gets handled better because it will be so many students at school, it will be harder to social distance while in the halls and switching classes,” junior Layla Frazier said.

Principal Erin Savage said she is happy some kids are coming back, but she is glad that not everyone is.

“I do not think it is a good idea to bring 1,000 students back into the building while coronavirus is still active and has no cure,” Savage said.

Two cases of coronavirus – one a student and one a member of the staff – have been reported at Lakewood during the first quarter. Savage said the health of students and staff are the main concern.

“Plant operations will continue their nightly cleaning and disinfecting, and we will still focus on masks, hand washing, sanitizing and social distancing,” Savage said.

“It is hard enough to ensure 435 students are wearing masks and social distancing. With (more) students it will be more difficult,’’ Savage said.

If classes go above 25 students, some kids’ schedules will have to be changed. Serra said he will make the changes so that kids will have the same teacher just different periods.

“But a vast majority of kids and teachers will keep the same schedule,” Serra said.