Higher Numbers, Higher Consequences: COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket Following the Holiday Season

Students+are+distracted+by+the+over+looming+threat+of+COVID-19+within+the+high+school.+

Drawing by Rea Montgomery

Students are distracted by the over looming threat of COVID-19 within the high school.

By Rea Montgomery, Piper High School - KS

There seems to be an elephant in the room throughout the country that is going unaddressed, at least on the level of change, that is. Following the holiday season, COVID-19 cases have seen an extreme uptick, but even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still loosening guidelines for quarantine.

Following a gentle nudge from airline lobbyists, the CDC reconsidered the quarantine guideline from a standard 10-day isolation policy, given that the person is no longer able to spread the virus, to a much laxer 5-day policy. While the report mentions that this was due to studies showing that COVID-19 transmission usually happens in the first 1-2 days prior to symptoms and in the 2-3 days following that onset, it does not state that COVID-19 cannot be traced following this time. 

To continue to push “going back to normal” is to allow the nation to dive headfirst into despair. As bad as a lockdown could be for the economy, the long-term effects of the virus could be much worse for those who work than originally projected, hindering Americans’ ability to work anyways. 

In fact, the virus could even be detrimental to children, which were originally thought to be somewhat safe from anything worse than a mild case. But, a new study done by the CDC suggests that kids infected with COVID-19 have a higher chance of developing diabetes following recovery from the virus. 

Even with all of this new information coming out about how detrimental COVID-19 can be, cases are still rising, and they have been for a while now. Something needs to be done and it needs to be done soon. 

In fact, we can even see this rise on a more local level at Piper High school, with testing being relocated to the auditorium rather than the nurse’s office. The line to test for COVID has gotten much longer recently, with some reports stating that it was up to the lunchroom bathrooms on Monday, Jan. 10. 

Superintendent Dr. Jessica Dain, principal John Nguyen, and assistant principal John Tytla all have had to help the one nurse deal with the rigorous amounts of tests. With these rigorous amounts, the school has been running out of tests.

This is also something that can be seen in classes. Some classes have reported missing hefty amounts of students, to the point where instead of only pursuing instruction in class, some material is going back online for the portion of the class currently quarantining. 

Nearly every sports team and activity are also at least testing daily, and students are being called out of class left and right.

Amidst all of this, there have not been any adjustments made. Masks are still optional, quarantine is still only mandatory following a positive test, school is continuing on “as normal”, however, none of this is normal at all.  If pep rallies and spirit weeks need to be canceled due to rising cases, then more action needs to be taken to protect the student body in everyday circumstances.

This should, at the very least, start with reimplementing the mask mandate for all students. While it was not particularly enjoyable, taking a step back and re-masking up can help protect us all and keep everyone safe and in school. 

It also could be what prevents a shutdown, or even just a quarantine. For most students, taking 5-10 days’ leave from school is something that is simply not feasible, and with the overwhelming amount of students required to test, standing in line for that could be daunting, even for symptomless students. With everyone going back to masks and properly wearing them, we can prevent such a large amount of cases and ensure more students stay in class. 

Since the state does not recognize online school anymore, it’s vital to keep this outbreak somewhat controlled. Taking a timeout to quarantine on an individual basis can be harmful to grades, and if the school was to have to shut down for a few weeks, those days would have to be made up. That means becoming more strict on snow days, adding time to the end of the day, and potentially going to school much later than the initial last day. None of that sounds ideal, so let’s all do our part and mask back up for a safe second semester.

This story was originally published on KC Piper News on January 12, 2022.