by Braylyn Hoopes, freshman at Goessel High School
Editor’s Note: Schools this year have had to be creative and Marion County schools have done this well. In addition to the new “normal” options of remote learning, our educators are providing creative, outside the box options for keeping our students safe while learning. Goessel High School freshmen Braylyn Hooper wrote this amazing piece to help the Free Press readers get a glimpse into a recent creative solution that GHS recently did.
On Friday, Oct 16, what was supposed to be an enjoyable day off for Goessel High School students due to a teacher workday, turned into a chaotic mess when two students tested positive for COVID-19.
The ripple effect of contact tracing caused the entire football team to miss its varsity football game against Pretty Prairie. Beginning Monday, Oct. 19, the hallways throughout the high school were nearly silenced. Approximately 40 high school students received a call from the health department telling them they had to quarantine for two weeks due to being a close contact of someone who tested positive for the virus.
The students that were placed into quarantine had a choice to stay at home or come to the Goessel Mennonite Church for a modified learning option, or in other words, a modified quarantine. Regardless of where the students chose to attend, they had to log on every day and every hour with their teachers for classes.
This was very hard to have meaningful conversations in and outside of school. Most teachers moved all lessons online so the students in quarantine could interact with the students remaining in school as easily as possible.
One of the supervisors of the modified quarantine, Gretchen Schrag, said, “The benefits of being at the church were that all those quarantined [could] at least get to see some other students throughout the day. Sometimes they [would] help one another with assignments, just as kids sometimes do at school. Another advantage was that breakfast and lunch were provided for them by the school.”
The church was close to the school so meals, supplies, and sometimes even homework papers could be easily transferred between the church and the high school.
At first, there were about 17 students signed up to attend modified quarantine, but much like everything, as the days grew longer and the weeks went on, the numbers dwindled.
Schrag said, “Another benefit was that Tom [Zogleman], another supervisor at the church, and I were around to answer a few questions, and we helped make sure they logged on to their classes at the correct time. At home, that would have been all on [students] to do.”
One football player, Eddie Gaeddert, who was part of the 17 students completing school from the church, stated, “Even though we were quarantined I still got to see some of my friends and stay connected. It was also nice to have a routine to stick to.”
Another student, Dylan Riley, said in an interview, “It benefited all of us to be able to see each other in person knowing that all of us were together in the struggle of being quarantined.”
The principal at Goessel Jr./Sr. High stated, “[We] made the arrangements with church leadership and pastor Brad Penner. We then measured out space so that each student could work 6 feet apart. Lunch was provided by the cooks making up to-go boxes and the students either walked over to pick them up on a cart outside the back of the kitchen or if the weather was bad we delivered them to the church.”
Without the flexibility of the pastor, Brad Penner, the operation behind modified quarantine that gave many students a safe place to learn wouldn’t have been possible.
Currently, the church is being used once again as a “second” school. Several students are taking advantage of the kind actions of Pastor Brad and the church.
Soon, hopefully, all the students at Goessel High School will be back in the school’s halls, bringing life back through the front doors once more.
Until then, stay safe and remember, you are never alone. The kindness shown by our local church is just a small example of how the community of Goessel is rallying together through these challenging times.