With school reopened and reports of Covid cases, Harrisites discuss school sanitation and hygiene

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Prior to school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Classic addressed the lack of sanitation in school bathrooms at Townsend Harris High School. Since then, administration and the custodial team installed soap dispensers and implemented hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes across the school to combat the virus.

However, many students have raised concerns about a regression they have seen in public cleanliness within the school. “Every morning for the past two weeks, when I come into school from the lobby, the hand sanitizer dispenser near the door has consistently been empty. Coming from two trains and two buses, I feel that having the sanitizer dispenser filled at the lobby location is a must since many students do not have time to run to the bathroom to wash their hands before class,” said junior Blessing Ogunsola.

The Classic visited the location on November 18 before school and observed that the lobby dispensers were half full and those in the auditorium were empty. 

The lack of working sanitation stations, especially those in the gym, has been a problem for some students. “The gym needs hand sanitizer the most because we touch different equipment, the floor, and just we ourselves are sweaty,” said sophomore Smita Goswami, “I myself feel unsafe and gross [without the hand sanitizer].” Sophomore Faith Park said she had wanted to disinfect her hands after handling a badminton racket, but the same dispenser was void of sanitizer. 

When asked about the reportedly empty dispenser stations, Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee said, “The custodians fill the dispensers regularly. If students see that a dispenser needs to be filled, they should report it to an adult—either staff or a custodian”

On November 10, Principal Brian Condon disseminated an email to the school reporting someone in the school community had tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier this week, two  additional emails were sent out informing of additional potential cases, one of which was eventually confirmed. In light of this, some students expressed a heightened concern over school hygiene and the conditions of current cleanliness measures, putting them further on edge about their safety. “Ever since we got that confirmed COVID case email, I have been very wary about [the lack of] sanitation [policies],” said junior Tijon Dembo.

Classroom cleanliness has also caused worry. Junior Shirooba Chandrakumar said, “Although most of my classes have filled sanitizer dispensers, a big issue that I have noticed is that we do not regularly wipe down our desks with sanitizing wipes even though these desks are shared with multiple students from a variety of grade levels.”

Photo by Audrey Chou, Photography Editor