New measures pertaining to COVID safety introduced for on-campus learning


By Ryder Lariviere

Only a month into in-person learning, COVID training may feel like a distant memory, but it was responsible for preparing our community to be safe during in person learning. 

Before students and faculty were allowed back on campus, a mandatory schoolwide training took place during the first and second week of October. All faculty and students attended the training to learn the proper safety procedures for an in-person day with the option of virtual training via Zoom. 

Justin Culley, Branson’s safety director, said that the training and maintaining of the COVID protocols were “really meant to tell the community it’s not hard, it’s simple, but we all have to do it.”

The school intentionally staggered the time during which students and faculty were trained in order to keep people from gathering, but kept the trainings very similar to each other.

“For students, we divided by grade level and had half up here [Upper Campus] and half down by the Commons,” he said. “While for teachers, departments signed up over the span of a week and a half during the morning or afternoon. The structure of it was different, but what we covered wasn’t. We wanted everyone to get the same information.”

Training covered the proper screening procedures, reminders about staying home, the “four cardinal rules” (wear a mask, constantly sanitize, socially distance, stay home if sick) and hands-on experience in a COVID-ready classroom. 

Meanwhile, Emily Easom, Branson’s COVID coordinator, hoped the impact of the training would continue to allow Branson to provide in-person learning.

“Having the training allowed us to feel knowledgeable and prepared as well as safe going forward into the foreseeable future,” she said. “We will be able to continue to provide in-person learning and ensure that we are taking the appropriate measures to keep that in-person learning.

Alexander LaMonica, a freshman at Branson, completed the training and said, “It helped build a clear vision of what school would be like on a day-to-day basis. It explained things such as the owl camera, sanitization procedures, and how the cohort system would work.” 

Shujun Xiang, a Mandarin teacher new to Branson, received the training as well and appreciates the impact and importance of it.

“We know for sure the steps and procedures. We definitely know what to expect and how to address something if it occurs. So far, everything is in good order,” she said.

When asked what other message she would want to share with the community, Xiang said, “Stay positive, stay happy, and help the community as much as possible.”

Culley echoes a similar sentiment, “We all have to be in this together, and if we’re not all in this together, then Branson is not likely to remain open.”