School adapts to new COVID guidelines for textbook pickups

February 23, 2021 — by Martin Xu and Mina Yeap

Courtesy of Nada Macesic

As sophomore Ashley Belshe left her house around 2 p.m. on a recent school day to pick up “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque, she grabbed her mask, ID card and a few books that needed to be returned. After waiting in line for a few minutes, she placed her books on the cart and scanned her ID card. Eunsil Lee-Tapley, the library technician who was helping with the distribution of textbooks, handed her “All Quiet on the Western Front” before Belshe left. 

The textbook room reopened at the beginning of the fall semester with a revised plan to provide a safe and efficient way for students to pick up their textbooks every school day from noon to 3 p.m. during the pandemic.

These days, going to the textbook room is the only time some students go to school at all. 

To prepare for pickups, Nada Macesic, who oversees the textbook room, first contacts teachers and asks for the books they want their students to check out. After gathering the titles, she sets aside the books for pickup. 

At the start of the fall semester, the school set up multiple booths for textbook pick-ups. Because COVID-19 cases were lower then, the school had more relaxed guidelines; for example, students could volunteer to assist the staff in handing out textbooks. 

As the pandemic worsened, however, the school established stricter guidelines: Students would have to stand 6 feet apart from each other when waiting in line, and the school left only one booth open and invested in a service window with an intercom speaker system for better communication.

After a staff member scans their ID card, students receive their textbooks through a small opening at the bottom of the window. Students drop off their used books on a small cart outside the window for a contactless visit. These books are then left on the cart for a few hours before they are rearranged in the system.

The textbook room pickup process demonstrated what a return to in-person school could look like; people ignoring the COVID-19 guidelines. 

Students, like sophomore Jeremiah Chung, have generally viewed this system as effective and safe, apart from a few mishaps in social distancing.

“There were a lot of people at the line, so it took longer for me to get a book,” Chung said. “Although the process of getting books felt safe, some people were not social distancing, which was a little worrying.”

 

When these incidents occur, Macesic said that she simply reminds students of protocols. 

“So far, I always got a positive response and students would move away from each other,” she said.

Although the process of returning and retrieving books has not ended, the school’s system has proved to be successful. 

“The school provided everything I needed to feel safe working at the campus: sanitizers, wipes, sprays, gloves and masks,” Macesic said. “Students are following all procedures and requirements, and I don’t feel endangered at any time.”

 

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