San Benito High School administration building. File photo.
San Benito High School administration building. File photo.

The San Benito High School District held a special board meeting on July 14 on Zoom to present COVID-19 safety protocols for reopening the high school in the hybrid learning model on Aug. 13.

The protocols were presented in a series of slides by Laurie Chavez, assistant principal of safety and discipline. Chavez said the plan is to separate the campus into seven mini-campuses, each housing its own restrooms, staff lounge, parking lot, monitoring area and supervision. Each mini-campus will have its own evacuation map and will be separated by fencing and gates to establish its own entrance and exit. Each will be equipped with portable handwashing stations and hand sanitizer dispensers throughout.

Superintendent Shawn Tenenbaum said, “This is a very complex and complicated matter. To take a campus that sprawls almost 80 acres, breaking it up into seven mini-campuses, to look at ingress and egress, the disinfecting schedules, grab ‘n’ go lunches, the active screening and passive screening aspects are really a Herculean feat. We are not a static environment, we are an active environment at SBHS and we embrace that but given the pandemic and the requirements we have to meet we’re really having to look at things creatively and differently.”

The safety process will begin in the homes of students before they set foot on campus. Parents or guardians will be asked to conduct a passive screening of their children through a temperature check and series of questions before sending them off to school.  

When the passive screening is successfully completed, students will then arrive at their assigned mini campus and undergo an active screening where a member of SBHS staff will ask a series of proactive questions and take each student’s temperature. Students will be allowed on campus if their temperature is under 100.4 degrees. Chavez said students will then receive a “thumbs up” and be allowed to enter if they have a face covering, if they do not have a face covering one will be provided to them. 

Everyone on campus will be required to wear a face covering. In response to a concern from Trustee Patty Nehme about discipline for students who refuse to wear masks and what she referred to as “defiant children” Tenebaum said, “If we do have students that choose not to wear a face covering, they will not be entering one of our mini-campuses. If one chooses to take off their face covering once they are through the active screening, then we are going to ask the teacher to politely provide a face covering for them, if they refuse then the student will be escorted to the monitoring room. We are all in this together and we know the science behind wearing a face covering.” 

Once on campus, food service supervisor Jim Lewis said students will be given access to cold ready-to-eat meals. The AM students’ bagged meals will include breakfast and lunch. The PM students will receive lunch and supper in their bagged meals.

The safety team has also established protocols for when students need to use the restroom. Laurie Chavez said, “We have a Google doc form that will send out info as soon as a student puts in their ID. It will shoot out info to a campus supervisor that will say this restroom is occupied. As soon as the restroom is no longer occupied, we will get our custodial team to go in and disinfect the restroom.”   

Chavez emphasized that “the common protocol of signing out of the classroom to use the restroom will help staff identify how many students are in or outside of their classrooms at any given time.” She reminded the audience and trustees that students will only be on campus for one class at a time and parents and guardians should encourage students to try and use the restroom before they go to school.

Chavez is leaning heavily on informing the community about all safety protocols prior to the first day of school, August 13, using various methods including a series of six videos detailing the protocols of active screening, classroom entrance, exiting the campus, and food service. The videos will be posted on the high school’s YouTube channel.

Helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 and preventing an outbreak of the virus on campus is a crucial role held by custodial supervisor Abraham Rivera-Carvajal and his team, who presented a daily cleaning schedule broken down hourly in segments to show how often surfaces and common areas will be sanitized.  

Rivera-Carvajal referenced the Healthy Schools Act of 2016 in the California Education Code when talking about the types of disinfectants approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration for use in school settings.

He said that after each bathroom use the plan is to disinfect the bathroom with a chemical that has a one-minute sit time required to be effective. He described how they will clean, sanitize and disinfect classrooms with equipment by saying, “As soon as class ends the custodial staff will go into the classroom with misters that will spray a chemical solution to 20 microns, which are very small particles, to allow for better coverage of the desks and high-touch areas like light switches, handles and anything like that. It has a sit time of one minute, but we will prefer for it to sit at least five minutes just so it dissipates as well as evaporates.” 

The next meeting on SBHS’s reopening will be July 28 at 6 p.m., on Zoom. Residents are encouraged to attend and forward questions in advance. To submit questions, concerns or comments please email or call (831) 637-5831. The high school is also asking to hear from parents about their preference for attendance in the fall in this survey:


BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is working around the clock during this time when accurate information is essential. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s news.