One Month In, And Covid Protocols Continue To Cause Controversy In Schools

The transition from online school to in-person has been complicated. Getting the students into the school while keeping them safe means masks, social distancing, and vaccinations.

     “I love being back in school, I find it so much easier to understand and do school work when I have others around me who can help me learn,”  freshman Natalie Wilhoit said. 

     One of the things that was impacted during distance learning was student grades.

     A study by The New York Times showed that in Houston, Texas at least half of high school students had gotten at least one F in the fall semesters of 2020’s online school. 

     “Teaching online was definitely not fun or easy as a teacher,” biology teacher Itzel Rojas said. “Even with wearing masks, it’s still nice to have people back in the building and try to make people feel as normal as possible.” 

     During online school, students weren’t having many, if any, social interactions. One of the concerns was mental health during the hard times of staying home. A study taken from WebMD states, “researchers found that 46% of 977 parents of teens said their child has shown signs of a new or worsening mental health condition since the start of the pandemic.” 

     “I think that not being able to see other people and socialize has affected other’s mental health in a negative way, but being able to see people again is a huge relief for me and everyone else missing their friends,”  sophomore Hanna McAfee said. 

     Students are excited about seeing their friends and even meeting new people, but the thing that they are most excited about is football games and dances. Although it is still being decided whether or not there are going to be dances or other school events, everyone is still hopeful. 

     “I was disappointed when the homecoming dance got canceled. I was confused on why we have football games and not dances,” freshman Chloe Thompson said. “Both are large gatherings; it doesn’t make sense.”  

     “This year I am most excited about being able to see people in person,” McAfee said. 

     Having to wear masks is a struggle, but students of Tigard aren’t letting that ruin their excitement to be starting again. 

     “I am so excited for all the school events and upcoming sports events,” Wilhoit said.

     While some students and staff are excited for school to be starting again, others are nervous about the safety of themselves and others. 

     “Overall, students have done a pretty good job of wearing masks, but I still see people hugging, holding hands, and not following social distancing rules, especially when we see those big mobs in the halls,” freshman biology teacher Itzel  said.

     Masks in school are required and vaccinations are encouraged. Masks are also required for indoor and outdoor sports and activities. 

     Masking rules, especially for outdoor activities, have caused some confusion. 

     “I don’t think we should have to wear masks outside unless we are in close proximity,” Wilhoit said.

     According to the CDC website, they recommend universal indoor masking by all students (age two and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. In addition to wearing masks, the CDC recommends schools maintain at least three feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk.

     Vaccines and masks have been proven to be the most effective method in decreasing the spread of Covid-19. The current debate on whether or not it should be a requirement for kids in schools is bringing forth a few different opinions and thoughts. 

     “I believe that it’s the people’s choice whether or not to get the vaccine,” Wilhoit said. 

     Monday was the deadline for all teachers to show proof of full vaccination or have obtained a medical or religious exemption. While students have the choice, teachers do not.  However, not everyone shares the same ideas on the best approach to vaccines in schools. 

     “I know we can’t legally require students to be vaccinated but it would definitely help lower the risk of Covid spread in schools if everyone who entered the building were vaccinated,” Rojas added. 

      Wearing masks, staying distanced in class and at lunch, and all the new protocols can be complicated, but most believe being in person is positive.  “This year I am most excited about being able to see people in person,” McAfee said.