“They have to be extra careful with a lot of things,” she says after leaving him. “Hand sanitizer and everything — and not be too close with their friends or play like they used to before.” — Ivan Moreno
Santa Monica, Calif.
8 a.m., Santa Monica High School
A cheerleader approaches an entrance gate at Santa Monica High School in a hurry, carrying a stepladder painted in the school’s colors, blue and gold. She sets it down to show a security officer her school ID and a “green screen” on her phone, indicating she had passed the daily Covid screening questionnaire. She’s in a hurry because it’s game day: The football team will play their longtime rivals, Venice High School.
“Are you ready for Venice tonight?” Johanna De La Rosa, the school’s bilingual community liaison, asks students approaching the gate, as she helps check students’ IDs and green screens in the mornings. That wasn’t a regular part of her job before the pandemic.
“Our teamwork on campus — it has been so key for us to all kind of really understand that we’re really a team, no matter what our titles are, and just pulling together,” she says. Most of the school’s approximately 2,850 students are also tested for Covid weekly during a class period, along with their teacher, as part of a rotating surveillance schedule.
Amara McDuffie, 14, fills out the Covid screening questionnaire on her phone as she walks toward the gate. Her first-period class is art. “It’s really fun. I don’t know anyone in the class. They’re a bunch of juniors,” Amara says. “It’s the usual class clowns, quiet kids and stuff. I think I like seeing that again.”
Students begin to pick up their pace as it gets closer to the 8:30 a.m. first-period bell.
Lara Hunter, a 17-year-old new to Santa Monica High, says she’s been told any added flurry of game day activity “isn’t really, like, a thing,” adding: “But I was from an art school, so this is, like, all new to me.” — Jessie Geoffray
8:10 a.m., Herbert Hoover High School
It’s the end of the second week of school at Hoover High and Jason Babineau, the principal, is walking around the campus shouting “good morning” to students. He suddenly banks right and catches a flying football, then gives an elbow bump to a football player.