“May you live in interesting times…” is an Ancient Chinese saying that sounds like a blessing, but is really a curse — since many Ancient Chinese were said to be afraid of change. These are interesting times at 11320 Woodstock Road, but Blessed Trinity Catholic High School faculty and students are meeting the challenge head-on.
On March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump declared the COVID-19 pandemic a National Emergency and over 24,000 U.S. high schools began to shut down and switch to online classes. BT was no different. In an “abundance of caution,” a term everyone would soon add to their vernacular, Blessed Trinity ended all in-person classes and activities, shut down all athletics, canceled the prom, and was forced to reduce one of the biggest days of any student’s life — graduation — to an online ceremony.
Times were uncertain, students were despondent, and parents were fearful — but BT administrators and teachers knew that BT life had to go on.
Blessed Trinity looked to the Archdiocese of Atlanta for sound guidance to commence the 2020-2021 school year. Almost immediately at the close of the 2020 school year, the Blessed Trinity COVID-19 Task Force was created, a team of top BT administrators working together and reporting to each other to ensure the safety of each student coming back to school for the 2020-2021 school year.
This task force, which includes Assistant Principal Michael Henry, invented new ways to keep the school running smoothly by changing the way we come to school — and remain at school. Students take a mandatory temperature check when entering the building. They sit in desks spaced six feet apart. And most importantly, they wear masks at all times to reduce the spread of any airborne particles.
“The temperature check is our first indicator,” says Henry. “If the student’s temperature is over 100 degrees, they’ll be taken away from the student population to a zone to be temperature tested more thoroughly.” If the temperature remains above 100 degrees at this second check, parents will be notified immediately and the student will be sent home.
Blessed Trinity is keen on following the CDC’s health guidelines, keeping hand sanitizing stations at every door. A new disinfecting team has been deployed at Blessed Trinity, which cleans all doors and desks during every period of the school day, to ensure cleanliness from student to student each period. Seats at lunch tables are reduced to three per table sitting on both opposite ends of the table, and in the middle to maintain a six-foot distance. Students are told to stay home if they feel any symptoms.
Contact tracing is another vital part of student safety at Blessed Trinity. Handled by the Medical Liaison Team, contact tracing will, “work with local public health officials to identify close contacts and will notify community members who may be close contacts.” Contact Tracing ensures that any potentially infected individual is quarantined. Students who may also come in contact with an infected individual are quarantined until a COVID-19 test comes back negative.
According to the Blessed Trinity Back to School plan, “Contact tracing will be performed and all exposed individuals must quarantine for 14 days from their last date of contact with an exposed case.”
Though a considerable number of students continue to learn online, Mr. Henry says coming back to school is perfectly safe. “Some families make the choice based on health conditions in the family, which we completely understand, but what we’re finding is that people are seeing the precautions we are taking, parents see what we’re doing, and they feel like it’s a safe environment.”
It may be the New Normal, but BT is returning to some sense of normalcy on campus: athletics are back in full stride, Club meetings and House meetings are back in session — even the Night of Laughter seemed to laugh in the face of Covid for two successful shows this past weekend. SATs, PSATs, and PreACTs were tackled wholeheartedly like any other year.
BT Students and Parents are feeling better about the School Year. After all, no one wants to put BT’s Academics, Sports Championships, and musical performances on hold for a year. Many have said they owe a big debt of gratitude to the BT Administration and Faculty for keeping them safe and not just surviving, but thriving.
For more information, see the school’s Back To School plan under the COVID-19 category at btcatholic.org.