Students, parents, and staff of Herriman High felt unsure of what this school year 2021-2022 has to offer. Luckily, Principal Todd Quarnberg has answers to all our lingering questions.
I had the opportunity to ask him questions concerning our school, and he definitely did not disappoint. This interview will hopefully provide the student body with some much-needed closure.
What are your plans for the 2021-2022 school year?
During our discussion of this question, he opened up a lot about feeling disconnected from the students during quarantine. But this year, he is a lot more hopeful.
“We’re back to where we were prior to Covid. Is it the right decision? I don’t know if it is or not. I am not an anti-masker, for sure. I will do everything I can to keep this school open.” He explained confidently.
Principal Quarnberg is happy to have everything back to the way it was before Covid-19. But the physical health of the students is a priority. If the student body and staff are healthy, the school will have the same social dynamics, schedules, and rules as pre-covid. It will be as if quarantine never happened.
How has Covid-19 changed the way you interact with students?
Todd Quarnberg made it very clear during our interview that he cares about the student body. The daily interaction with students was important to him. Not just for the student’s sake but for him as well.
“You would hear students [say] that they struggled with the isolation of it all, you know, the depression and so forth, and I don’t wanna raise a red flag that I’m depressed, but I will tell you I struggled with it, you know. I won’t tell you that there weren’t ‘twitches’ of depression.”
Mental health is a big topic at Herriman and last year confirmed that. Our principal and the rest of the staff are empathetic towards the mental health of the student body.
“I didn’t know the sophomore class last year. It’s hard to communicate. That mask is a barrier… I need that interaction to feel like I’m doing the job, and meeting the needs of kids. Their schedules. Talking about home. Social and emotional health. You can’t determine how a student is doing unless you can really see and communicate.”
Our principal expresses that he deeply cares for us and plans to socialize as much as possible in the coming school years. It will make up for the disconnect with the administration that many of us felt last school year.
Do you support the decisions made by the district?
Principal Quarnberg explained that it is crucial that all the students feel comfortable and safe in school. He and the rest of the staff are trying their hardest to sanitize the school, but it is difficult to clean every area of the school. There is not enough time, staff, or supplies to meticulously clean the entire school to the standards that Principal Quarnberg would prefer.
“There isn’t a place in this building that I don’t feel like is getting some attention,” Mr Quarnberg said when discussing the sanitization of the school. Though, he feels he could do more.
“If there are students or staff that feel like there needs to be more attention to certain areas. I am very interested in hearing and learning what that is.”
The 2021-2022 Covid Dashboard (a public website used to track Covid cases in different schools) was discussed while answering this question.
“That dashboard is inaccurate.” He was hesitant but admitted.
He worked closely with the school nurse to ensure that the Herriman High data was correct, but somehow that data is not being accurately recorded on the dashboard. Principal Quarnberg was unsure exactly where the inconsistencies with the Covid Dashboard arose but assured that the school was trying its best to make it as accurate as possible.
As far as the School Covid-19 guidelines go, Principal Quarnberg does not have absolute control and must abide by every rule that the state, county, or district enforces.
He then mentioned, “I work for [the students].”
The students and their needs come first in his eyes.
What do you think will be the long term effects of Covid-19 concerning the school?
This is a question that looms over people across the globe. Well, I do not speak for the New York Times, but here is what Principal Quarnberg has to say, “Well, you know when you talk about long term, I think the first thing that pops into my mind is vaccinations.”
Now that the FDA approved Pfizer, Principal Quarnberg is hopeful that people will be open to the vaccine.
“I’m not going to lose sleep over those who don’t [get the vaccine]. It’s a personal choice, but in the long term I’m hoping more and more kids get the vaccine. I think it creates an environment of safety here. I do see an end… There is a pin prick of light out there that I can see.”
Socially, we are almost back where we were pre-Covid.
Principal Quarnberg also added, “We have very few kids here who chose to go fully online, and it goes back to that social interaction. That is what’s needed, really, to be healthy… social and emotional health is a big deal, and full circle to where [we were]. That’s important to me.”
As stated earlier, it is essential to maintain a healthy mental and social state. And we can achieve it through daily school interactions. In the eyes of Herriman staff, student health and wellbeing is the first priority.