A school without students

The experiences of teachers and administrators physically in Jones

Once full with the hustle and bustle of roughly two thousand students, the Jones building now is oddly quiet and bleak in comparison. Not many teachers have chosen to come to school, leaving the building virtually empty.

Although the building is in use, it has become a multistep process if one wishes to enter into Jones. Principal Paul J. Powers said Jones adheres to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) safety guidelines that were put in place. 

“Each staff member who wishes to enter the building has to fill out a daily health screening online and have their temperature checked as they come in,” said Powers.

CPS required wearing masks inside the building in all spaces with others.

 “I don’t have to wear [a mask] if I’m in my office with the door closed by myself, but if I’m out in the hallways or with other people we have to wear masks,” said Powers.

Sanitation has become a priority inside Jones, and the cleaning crew has stepped up to ensure everyone’s safety. 

 “[The school] is doing a really good job cleaning: there’s a door hanger on our door handles and [the janitorial staff] flip it over when our room has been cleaned,” said Math three teacher, John Wray. 

In addition to the standard guidelines of wearing masks and social distancing, Jones has established one-way staircases and hand-sanitizing stations outside of every classroom. Even the bathrooms have been safety-proofed. All air dryers have been replaced by paper towel dispensers and every other stall has been closed.

“There are also arrows on the floor and posters reminding everyone to keep socially distant,” said Wray.

Assistant Principal, Therese Plunkett,  also stated that Jones is completely up to code. 

“I know our engineers have said that our air filters and ventilation system are all up to date, so there’s no concern about that,” said Plunkett.

Wray said he has seen only four teachers when he goes to Jones. Despite having some teachers and staff in the building, all department meetings for both teachers and administration happen virtually. These meetings are mostly unofficial and participants have their masks on and maintain six feet apart. 

“We don’t have any big in-person meetings, but we have had some smaller in-person meetings where we can spread out,” Plunkett said. 

On the administrative side of things, Jones has several priorities they’re working on achieving throughout the year. 

“I watch the news just like everyone,” said Plunkett. “To be honest, we hear a lot of the information at the same time as our students and parents are hearing it.” 

Powers said the school has invested in lots of additional technology (both hardware and software) equipment for teachers and has done additional professional training.   

There have been a lot of changes to the school recently, but the consensus seems to be that Jones is better with students in the building.

“The first day, although I got here early and prepared when eight o’clock came and it was logging on as opposed to students walking into my classroom; that [was] really sad,” said Bowman.