Almost two years ago, on March 13, 2020, we as students were told we were no longer safe to be in school. As a population of over 2,000 students in one building, the possibility of COVID-19 being spread was too much of a risk to take. On March 13, 2020, the total number of cases in the United States was over 1700 with 40 official deaths. Today, there have been over 2.8 million cases and over 38,000 deaths. The most obvious solution to our safety is remote learning, yet the schools are still open. With COVID-19 running rampant in America, how can we, as students, expect to be safe?
Masking has been one of the biggest areas of debacle. The policing of masking at Oswego High School has yet to improve, even with expanded policies due to a rise in COVID numbers. Although there are multiple reminders throughout the day to keep on masks-—thanks to individual teachers, posters reminding students of COVID policy, and other students keeping masking in check—there are yet to be any real consequences for students who repeatedly ignore masking. Without greater enforcement, the masking issue will not change within OHS. Without considerable change to the masking problem, the best solution would be to change the school to remote, where students no longer have the need to wear masks.
Today, the majority of OHS students are vaccinated. However, there are a few students who have not been vaccinated who are still allowed to be inside the school building. Being unvaccinated means that they are not only endangering themselves by dramatically increasing the chances of catching COVID-19, but they endanger all other students, as they can still carry the disease even if not physically sick. Although vaccinated people can still get and carry COVID-19 just as unvaccinated people can, the chances of both of those circumstances occurring is decreased after vaccination . However helpful a vaccine mandate would be for the district in order to keep the students safe, mandating vaccination is not under the decision of the district. If District 308 does not have the power to mandate vaccines in its students, the next step in keeping student safety as a priority would be to move District 308 back to remote learning.
The most effective way that SD308 could protect us as students would be to return to online schooling. The chances of spreading COVID-19 to others could be greatly reduced once we stop putting over 2800 kids in the same building five days a week. For students who are against vaccination or whose parents are against getting vaccinated, they can keep that decision to themselves and not have to endanger their peers with that decision. For students who have medical problems stopping them from being able to safely wear masks, they would no longer need to put themselves at risk of catching COVID-19 if they stayed at home. Overall, with the new cases rates being as high as they are and the new Omicron variant burning its way throughout the country, students of SD308 will be safer and healthier if the district were to return to online schooling.