Second COVID spike challenges school arrangements

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Students themselves are wary of the potential danger that mass gathering in the form of parties might elicit. “I did not feel completely safe returning to school after Halloween because I knew several kids were at Halloween parties. The kids that went to parties were not wearing a mask or doing anything to social distance,” senior Gilian Leon said. The potential cases that come from mass gatherings in the form of parties or celebrations are a cause for concern for many. (Photo/CNN)

As feared by leading scientists and government officials, a second COVID spike is emerging during the fall and winter months. With New York City nearing a second wave, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, COVID statistics are spiking nationally, approaching the levels of the first spike of the summer. Internationally, countries like Germany, France and Italy have imposed a second COVID-related lockdown, with American physician Dr. Anthony Fauci warning of a possible second lockdown if the cases continue to rise at a similar rate. Along with the rise of cases that has accompanied Halloween, upcoming holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas, may prompt mass gatherings that are a cause for concern for many.

Halloween, with its community activities and spreader events like Trick or Treating, has already caused a notable increase in cases. Many counties, like Lane County, Ore. and Wetchester, N.Y., have reported a spike that is linked to Halloween parties. NSU University School was forced to suspend in-person school due to similar super-spreader events related to Halloween that posed a risk to all attending the school. 

Here, administrators dealt with the potential spread of COVID by pre-emptively urging students not to attend parties. Administration encouraged all to participate in safe celebrating in an email sent out Halloween weekend enunciating their desire for no parties. If they received tips on parties, they would then send the police to close the parties down. If any proof of parties is seen by faculty, administration will make those attending students test, quarantine, then test again using contact tracing. 

“It’s expensive. Unfortunately, it’s taking up a lot of my time, the nurses’ time. So that’s why it gets me angry,” Upper School principal Mrs. Elise Blum said. “We’re doing all of this to keep school open and people are irresponsible.” 

President Dr. Laurie sent out a letter to all parents about traveling. Heritage is relying on students to self quarantine and test before they come back, as well as make good choices during their vacations. Mrs. Blum expressed her hopes that even if students make bad choices, the measures placed on campus will prevent a spread. 

“If you’re careful on campus, you wear your mask, you wash your hands and you distance, you know that you’re really mitigating,” Mrs. Blum said.

In addition, there are also reactive steps in place for when parties do occur. The school’s steps for any potential infections continue to be thorough. Students caught partying will be required to test, quarantine, and then test again. Using contact tracing, as well, with the use of the Magnus form and carefully regulating student and faculty movements, the school ensures to send home all who might be exposed in any manner to the virus. So far, nobody who has been sent home because of contact tracing has contracted the virus.

The measures undertaken seem to be successful so far. The many implemented techniques, including frequent hand cleaning, antiseptic fogging, UV filters, social distancing, one-way walkways, and of course masks, have contributed to this achievement.

Eva, a junior at American Heritage School, is starting her first year as a writer for the Patriot Post. She enjoys all things literature and is part of many clubs including the National Honor Society, Key Club and Black Student Union. When she is not studying, she is at swim practice or watching Netflix.

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