The Pit’s traffic circle pattern continues to work, even as some return to in-person learning


Emma Kate Poole

Students stay to the right going around The Pit during class change now.

Bradynn Belcher, Staff Writer

Before this school year, the only lanes and traffic circles that students and teachers at Bearden had to worry about were on the road.

Now, arrows made out of tape flood the floors of the school hallways to remind everyone of the ever present Covid-19 pandemic.

The Knox County Health Department requires all schools to mark hallways and stairwells with tape to show direction of flow in order to avoid congestion, and to remind staff and students to remain socially distanced when possible. 

Among the taped-up halls is The Pit: a place where students used to gather in between classes to communicate and talk with their peers. But now, it serves merely as a traffic circle to effectively move students from one classroom to the next.

“I really miss being able to talk to my friends around The Pit in between class,” junior Elijah Williams said. “It was the only time of the day I could see some of them, but I understand that we have to do this in order to stay in school.” 

Despite students missing the previous experience of The Pit, the new traffic circle has proved to be an effective way to get students to class efficiently.

“I think even if everyone comes back next year and there’s 2,100 students in this building, the traffic circle should still exist, just for people being able to get to class,” curriculum principal Mr. Russ Wise said.

By the end of first semester, in-person students mastered the concept of the traffic circle and were making it to class in record time. 

“At the end of the last semester, it was amazing because we had hallway traffic down to a flow,” RTI/Testing Coordinator Mrs. Karen Smiley said.

Every school year, the start of the new semester makes students frantic to find their new classes, catch up with their friends, and cause pandemonium in the hallways, especially this year.

For the spring semester, over 50% of virtual students returned to school for in-person learning, and although the total in-person number is still much lower than the 2,100 total student population, the influx of students who were new to the tape-flooded hallways was evident.

“Our in-person students learned that The Pit was a round-a-bout, but at the start of the semester, I don’t know if it was virtual students or in-person students who were just tired of the rules, we definitely had to push more students to get to class,” Mrs. Smiley said. “I think students wanted to see each other and clump together and maybe didn’t understand the new flow of traffic during the first week of school, but I’m sure it will get better as time goes on.”

Bearden staff members are not the only ones who noticed a slowdown in hallway traffic. Virtual students who changed their status to in-person this semester felt overwhelmed with the new hallway expectations.

“I never expected that the direction we walked around The Pit and in the hallways would change with Covid-19,” returning in-person sophomore Reese Waltman said. “I felt like a sheep being herded the first time I went past The Pit.

“I felt bad for going the wrong way, but I learned really fast and I’m sure everyone else will too.”

Despite the hard adjustments of time spent in-between classes, the tape and traffic circles will continue in Bearden while the pandemic continues.