Town hall meeting explains entrance protocols and mental health support


Manual stands tall on a beautiful spring day in April 2020. Photo by Molly Gregory.

Michelle Quan

Principal Newman discussed entrance protocols for going back to school, along with additional student emotional and social support resources, in the Manual Town Hall on March 18th. Newman asks all students to closely follow the new regulations in order for a safe and smooth transition on April 5th, the first day back to in-person school. 

Entry and exit procedures

Bus riders will be dropped off on Ray Baer Boulevard and students will enter school by walking to the large gym entrance past the ramp that goes up to Exit 3. Anyone walking from the east of the school should follow the same path as bus riders and enter through the large gym.

As for car riders and walkers from the west, they will enter school through Exit 19 in the courtyard. Students who need to use the ramp will enter through Exit 22. 

Because of COVID precautions, students entering through the courtyard must enter the school immediately and are not allowed to sit at the tables. This will make contact tracing and deep cleaning easier.

Parents driving their kids to school must enter the back parking lot via Cardinal Boulevard and exit via S 2nd Street. To make traffic flow easier, parents should drive all the way down 2nd Street instead of trying to turn left immediately after exiting Manual’s parking lot. 

Entry and exit rules also apply to seniors driving themselves to school. It’s essential that everyone with a designated parking spot at Manual know exactly where it is located before the first day. Administrators recommend that people with a Manual parking spot try to visit the parking lot before April 5th if they are unaware of where their spot is located. 

Students with their first class in the YPAS building should enter from 2nd Street into the YPAS parking lot past the corner with the YPAS sign, and drop off at the sidewalk alongside the building or next to the green gates. Students will then walk to Exit 7 to enter the YPAS auditorium. 

YPAS students who need to drop off their instrument but also need to eat breakfast will walk from the YPAS building to Manual’s main building and enter through the large gym. When returning back to the YPAS building, their temperature will be checked, even if they were  already checked the first time they walked into the building.

If a student must go to the YPAS building first for either of their Red or White day schedules, they must arrive at the YPAS building first on both days for the sake of contact-tracing.

There will be guides at all student drop-off locations to ensure everybody knows where to go upon arrival. 

If arriving by car, Newman asks all students to not arrive at school before 7 am. Ideally, freshmen and sophomores should arrive any time between 7 to 7:15 am. Juniors and seniors should arrive between 7:15 to 7:30 am. 

Newman predicts about 65% of students within either Group A or Group B will be car riders, which amounts to about 700 students. 

“Now, I want everyone to know that we are going to monitor this entire process, and if for some reason after our opening week, we have to make adjustments. I will make sure those adjustments are clearly communicated,” Newman said. 

Tardies should not be a worry for students during the opening week of school. All welcome centers will remain open until 8 am.

After 8 a.m., students arriving late must enter through the front doors of the building, and sign in to school in the lobby. Parents will drop off students through the horseshoe driveway. Before 8 a.m., however, this method of drop off is not allowed and will not be open for parents. 

Sign-ins for all students will be made through assigned QR codes. Every student this year will be issued a new ID. News on how to pick these up will likely be given by the end of next week. If a student can’t get their ID before April 5th, they will receive it the first day of school and will sign-in through a paper sign-in sheet. 

When picking students up at dismissal time, cars will take the same route as when arriving to school through a single lane in the backlot. Other options for pickup include students walking to Brook Street or the YPAS building.

Another option for pickup new to this school year is through North Bound 1st Street, only at 2:35 once the school busses release. 

All pictures and maps of entry and exit paths are available on the slideshow provided. 

Mental health support 

Due to the combination of the hybrid and all-virtual schedules being available, mindfulness days and Crimson hours are now instructional days to accommodate all-virtual students. 

“I greatly value social and emotional supports,” Newman said. “Having to cancel [the mindfulness days] was very hard.”

To make up for the cancellation, more mental health resources and services have been added.

Overall accessibility to make individual appointments with counselors will be improved with the usage of QR codes placed all around the school building. These codes will link to a Google Form that students can fill out if they wish to do so. Additional resources are available on Manual’s counseling website.

Dr. Jessika Benson, a new addition to Manual’s staff  this year, also suggested some actions to take before in-person school begins. These suggestions mainly revolve around organization and always practicing self-advocacy. She stresses the importance of asking for help when needed. 

Counselors and teachers will provide consistent mental health and student wellness check-ins. Whenever needed, a student experiencing an emotional crisis during in-person learning can be sent to the counselor office to take a break.

Elise Christensen, Manual’s mental health practitioner, listed some warning signs for parents to help determine if their child might benefit from long-term therapy. Some of these signs include unusual isolation from friends, struggle with daily tasks, changes in eating habits and excessive stress. 

“Just remember these are some signs, and you want to look at if these signs are worsening over time,” Christensen said.  

Counselors may also refer students to another counseling service, Abundant Hope. Both in-person and telehealth therapy services are available from them, along with case-management services if the criteria is met. If referred to Abundant Hope, students will talk to Ronnie Treat, Manual’s assigned therapist. 

Concerns about freshmen not knowing how to locate everything in the school building was brought up in the Q&A after the presentation. Currently, Newman has proposed freshman be allowed to walk through the building before the first day, but this has not yet been approved. If not approved, there are plans for freshmen to have an orientation on the first day. 

As for right now, Newman will provide further updates to parents and students on any changes if they come.