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'This is my family' | Lancaster County principal working day and night to ensure school is safe

Indian Land Middle School is one of many in the Charlotte area that will be reopening for some in-person learning this fall. Here's how they're making it safe.

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — For schools in the Charlotte area that are reopening with in-person learning, principals are working around the clock to make sure their buildings are safe for students and teachers. 

The new year is going to look a lot different for many schools, including Indian Land Middle School in Lancaster County. Chris Thorpe is not only the school's principal, but his children attend Indian Land Middle, and he understands what's at stake. 

Thorpe said the school day will start with a temperature check when students arrive. Once kids are cleared, they'll go straight to their first classroom following arrows on the floor. As an added safety measure, students won't be using lockers. School administrators have eliminated extra touch points and areas kids would typically congregate together. 

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"Schools are designed to socialize kids and now we're going against that. It's hard," said Thorpe. 

Classrooms have been stripped down to the basics. Thorpe told teachers to get rid anything that isn't necessary or is difficult to clean. Desks are spaced far apart and kids will get into the habit of using hand sanitizer when they come and go. Teachers will clean their rooms between classes. Social distancing will also be enforced in the cafeteria. 

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"We always do what's in the best interest of kids, so what's why you see (these changes)," Thorpe said. "How can we help kids? Keep kids safe and keep teachers safe."

He understands families are feeling some anxiety over reopening. As a result, Thorpe is asking for patience from everyone heading into the new year. 

"It's not doing what you're told to do, but can we do more than what we're expected to do? That's what keeps me up. These are my kids, this is my family," Thorpe said. "You look at kids as if they're your family and you want to make sure you've done everything you can."

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