MHS staff seeing benefits of new off block library system

Commons and hallways were recently closed off to students staying on campus for time releases, and the benefits have started to show according to Dr. Young and Ms. Bortz


Braeden Corliss

Students working and hanging out during their off block in the Mead library.

It was recently announced that the Mead High student commons, both upstairs — which was recently rearranged — and downstairs, would be closed to students staying on the MHS campus during their time releases for the remainder of the school year. The hallways were also closed to students on off blocks.

So far, staff have started to see benefits from the new process of asking students remaining on campus to check in and out of the library.

Though it wasn’t initially clear if this change was at all related to the COVID-19 pandemic and new health-related restrictions, Principal Dr. Brian Young assured that it had nothing to do with the pandemic. In actuality, the commons were closed and the library off block system was introduced to provide “a safe environment for all students”, according to Dr. Young.

He said that there were issues happening when students were socializing in the commons during time releases unsupervised. The biggest concern was the lack of online check-in systems that verified students weren’t skipping classes.

“The commons were mostly unsupervised during the day,” Dr. Young added. They saw the library as a “safer spot for students to learn”.

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are still fully able to leave campus on their time releases if they’d prefer.

Up in the library, students have the option to study, complete homework, hang out and visit with their peers, or even take naps on the bean bags. Puzzles and games can be found on library tables.

The library carries two systems — student schedules through Infinite Campus and QR code sign-in spreadsheets — that are easily cross referenced whenever a student signs in through the QR codes that can be found on library walls and whiteboards by the front doors. This is to make sure students aren’t skipping class.

Mr. Bortz usually supervises and makes sure students scan the QR code when coming and leaving. If she has to step out of the library to go to a classroom, she asks a campus supervisor to temporarily take her place.

“I enjoy it, I love having all the kids up here,” she said.

But as with all new systems, there have been some obstacles along the way.

Ms. Bortz said, “At first, I was a little bit nervous about [having so many kids].” She normally has 20 or 30 students in the library each block. But though she had concerns about regulating and making sure the space continued to offer resources that enhanced student learning, it has been going smoothly so far.

There have also been meetings for groups such as the district Student Advisory that have had to move from their normal meeting location, the library, to the commons due to students on off blocks.

Though this time release system hasn’t been implemented for long, Dr. Young said it has been extremely beneficial so far. He commented that administration, counselors, campus supervisors, and front office staff “have reported… a lot less incidents of students not being [in classes]”.

It isn’t clear whether this system will continue to be in place in the 2022-2023 school year, but Dr. Young said, “If it’s working and it’s what’s best for our students, then… we’ll keep doing it.”