Locker assignments a thing of the past at some Vt. schools

Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 4:50 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2020 at 10:25 AM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Students in some Vermont schools aren’t getting assigned a locker this year as administrators try to limit touchpoints and hallway gatherings.

“We built a schedule that minimizes transitions, and then transitions are very intentional,” said Karsten Schlenter, the principal at Tuttle Middle School in South Burlington.

Schlenter says lockers have been less and less important to students in recent years, making it easier to cut down on traffic in the halls. And with fewer books, these middle school students aren’t carrying around as much.

“We want to minimize what they take along. They all are issued Chromebooks and we are going to encourage them to use their Chromebooks as much as possible, eliminate touchpoints,” said Schlenter.

Across the parking lot at South Burlington High School, teachers there are taking it a step further. Classrooms may look a bit like the sideline of a soccer game.

“We have removed all of our desks and chairs from the classrooms and we are issuing all our students a folding chair,” said John Craig, the assistant principal at South Burlington High School.

Not only did they choose to not issue lockers this year, but they have attempted to remove material that could be shared by students.

“It’s definitely going to look and feel different this year, but we are taking the necessary safety measures. We are minimizing the amount of stuff that is being spread between kids,” said Craig.

The folding chairs also make classrooms mobile, allowing them to pick up and use the outside just as easily as the classroom.

When students are in the classroom, they hope to make class more discussion-based, limiting the amount of notes taken, so no need for a desk.

Craig says because students are used to not using their lockers that much, an adjustment to carrying a folding chair, backpack and Chromebook should be an easy one. “It’s a lot less material that they will be managing even if it’s a textbook or two, plus their laptop and a folding chair. We think they will be able to manage it,” said Craig.

He says any textbook or other school-issued material will be theirs and theirs only.

They are also working on a coat check-like system for student-athletes to leave equipment in a designated space for the school day.

Over in Hartford, the local high school principal is starting to get rid of lockers to create more space in the hallways. They have already removed almost half of their lockers to match a declining student population. Plans to remove some of them date back to before the pandemic.

It was a senior project for a student that graduated in 2020, but they did allow him to come back and see the result of his findings on the new usage of space.

If students want a locker, they can go to the administration and they will be assigned one and given the combination. Without the lockers, they have gained a few feet of space in their hallways for students to pass safely.

Principal Nelson Fogg says the lockers were on the way out anyway and that the pandemic just gave them more reason to get them out.

“I think for a lot of kids, lockers are -- I think of it as a 20th-century construct. Like when I went to school, you had your locker, but I don’t necessarily think that’s how our current students think, and I don’t think they feel as though they have lost much. We are very confident that we have more than enough lockers and the added width to the hallway is phenomenal,” said Fogg.

Fogg says that out of roughly 500 students last year, only about 60 asked to have a locker.

Copyright 2020 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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