By Sydney King, contributing writer
Since the students and faculty left Nantucket High School on March 13th, a lot has been occurring in the building. Custodians have been working endlessly, preparing for construction and summer, but also preparing for the new 2020-2021 school year. Students may not be roaming the halls, but there is still work being done.
On March 15th, families, students, supervisors, faculty members, and the community were informed that school for the next two weeks would not be in session due to the recent outbreak of Covid-19. The building, however, was not empty during those two weeks. The custodians and building supervisors spent their time deep cleaning all spaces. In all four district schools, each classroom, room, office, etc. were sanitized. During this time, NHS was also closed for two weeks, and protocols were changed. All staff including custodians were asked to stop working for safety reasons. However, Mrs. O’Neil’s staff took one day each week to come in and maintain the cleanliness in any areas that had been visited.
After the two weeks, the protocols began to lighten, supervisors decided on a tactic where each room would be given a sign which said when the room had been disinfected. At first, they kept all rooms locked and closed and no teachers or faculty were allowed in. If there was a need for access a building supervisor would need to be informed and the room was then cleaned once again and a new date was placed on the sign. Director of Facilities and Grounds Diane O’Neil states, “This has worked for us and staff. Staff feels safe entering a room or space knowing it has been cleaned and re-cleaned each and every time someone entered.” Faculty coming into the school became more regular and the cleaning was still as thorough to maintain a safe space for all in the building. Dr. Buckey begins to explain: “we began a slow return of staff where they could come in once a week, then twice a week, then three times.” As of May 11th teachers were granted access to their spaces from 8-5.
Teachers were told to have their classrooms emptied out by June 5th. This is for summer disinfecting, which is very thorough, beginning with removing everything out of the room. Each space is cleansed then floors will be stripped as well as waxing. Before putting anything back into the room it will be cleaned once again.
Besides the cleanliness, there is construction planned for the next few months. At NHS, there is roof repair planned for June. Lockers on the main floor will be replaced with the same ones that are on the top and bottom floors of the school. Painting in the Hall of the Whale, middle hallway, and NHS Cafe will also be occurring. New flooring will be installed in vocational classrooms as well. With the closure, there is more time for bigger projects, including replacing the boilers and an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) project. This project will involve the gym, above the pool, and auditorium. As for the other buildings (CPS, NES, NIS), they can be also looking at the same sorts of projects.
As this closure has been a difficult time for all, Ms. O’Neil explains the difficult times her team has been having: “Buildings and Grounds have worked tirelessly to keep everything clean and disinfected to assure the safety of our students and staff.” Her staff will again face a challenge of both Town Election and Meeting dates of June 16th and June 25th, they want to make sure the building is acceptable for all and that it is completely safe after both dates.
NHS is missed by all, and for principal Dr. Buckey, “It is so sad to be in the building without students and staff.” However, when online learning comes to end, hopefully in the fall, students and staff can be welcomed into a well-cleaned building with some new appearances.