By Triana Devaux and Izzy Leake
Many students were scheduled to take the SAT on March 14th, the day after M-A’s last day of in person instruction last school year. The March 14th and many other subsequent SAT tests have been cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19. With test scores being critical parts of college applications, M-A decided to offer two opportunities for students to take the SAT at school yesterday and October 27th.
Students arrived at 8:00 in the morning, and were directed to wait in one of four socially distanced lines. To make sure that every student took the SAT in a safe environment, the school placed students into four groups, with 14 students each. The four cohorts were divided between Ayers and the New Gym, and students were admitted inside, one by one, after having their temperature taken and filling out a health survey.
“We have decided to test in our two gyms, Ayers and the New Gym because these are big spaces that have proper ventilation and we can space students out. We will raise the windows of the new gym in order to create ventilation and we have fans that bring in outside air into Ayers if need be,” said vice principal Karl Losekoot. A large curtain separated the two groups to ensure, “students in one pod do not mix with students in another pod.”
Each student was required to wear a mask and at a desk with a clear plastic screen. Each desk was separated 10 feet apart, and facing the test takers was an administrator, 20 feet away, with a microphone proctoring the test. Masked parent volunteers helped to pass out tests and materials such as extra number two pencils.
Anastasiya Polyakova, who took the test yesterday, said, “the students were dismissed by row and kept six feet apart during the two breaks.” She also thought that “they did a good job handling the situation and I felt very safe.”
Liana Burfoot thought that the protocols would be less enforced, but “it was really planned out well and it made me feel very safe and the staff was very careful about social distancing and we wore masks the whole time.” She said that they took extra precaution in checking temperatures and said they even “turned away my brother because his temperature was slightly high.”
If she had to do it again, Burfoot said that “I would like the test to be held on the weekend so I don’t miss any of my classes.” She urges students who are taking the SAT on October 27th to “contact your teachers ahead of time so you don’t miss anything on the test day!”
“We are testing 56 students on Wednesday, October 14th, and roughly 56 students on October 27th. The College Board offered these two dates and we decided to use both of the testing days so that we could serve more students. It would have been harder to test 112 students in one day as that would require more space and more proctors. We feel that we can administer the test safely if done over the course of two testing sessions,” said Losekoot.
The decision to offer the SAT was made along with the three other comprehensive high schools in the distinct, Carlmont, Sequoia, and Woodside, and the East Palo Alto Academy.