Student assistants limit COVID-19 spread


Student Assistant Yolanda Rodriguez at the NC front desk (Mahaney/LION).

Ella Mahaney, Reporter

At the start of the pandemic, the LT student assistants (previously called security guards) were faced with a workday that didn’t include any students. This drastically changed their job which continues to evolve depending on COVID-19 restrictions. Now with students back in the building, student assistants (SAs for short) are tasked with making sure everyone is using the correct stairwells, staying socially distanced and wearing their masks.

“I really missed the kids and their smiling faces walking through the door every day,”  NC SA Michelle Brown said.

Although some students are back at school, there are only a few hundred compared to the typical 2,000 students at each campus, NC SA Yolanda Rodriguez said. 

“I love the students, and it has been a big adjustment not having everyone in the building,” Rodriguez said. “I miss getting to know students and their personalities.” 

But even when students aren’t in the building, SAs arrive at school as early as 6:30, Brown said. Every morning SAs sit down to talk about the safety at LT and how to improve it. 

SAs have ensured a sense of safety and security for students and staff during this pandemic, assistant principal for the class of 2023 Darrell Mathis said. 

“The LT security guards have really helped ease my transition from remote to in-person learning by creating a safe atmosphere that reduces anxieties,” Isabel May ‘22 said.

The number of students returning to school in person has consistently increased over the past four weeks Mathis said.

“A lot of [the increase in students at school] has to do with SAs being diligent and proactive with reinforcing the COVID-19 safety guidelines,” Mathis said.

One of these safety practices is the daily health screener that students and staff must complete before entering an LT building. SAs are tasked with checking in the screener every single day. The wellness screener states that students and staff do not have COVID-19 nor have been exposed to the virus recently.

SAs also act as the eyes and ears of LT, Rodriquez said. 

“In years’ passed, I have walked into a bathroom and seen someone crying,” Rodriguez said. “Then I try to help them by escorting them to talk to a counselor or social worker.”

If an SA notices a student is struggling, they bring it to the administration’s attention to ensure the student gets the support they need, Mathis said. This is a prime example as to why they are referred to as SAs. The title security guard was changed to student assistant (SA) because it is meant to ensure that community members, staff and students realize their primary role is to assist students as an ally, Mathis said. 

“I really can’t reiterate enough how much student assistants mean to the LT community and how much they impact the overall success of LT,” Mathis said.