Photo by Austin Vinner.
After the recent drop in COVID-19 cases and loosening of restrictions, including in-school mask mandates, it seems to many that the pandemic is finally coming to an end. Despite this, it is still early and how MCPS proceeds in the coming months could critically impact the end of the school year and even the upcoming year.
One important milestone with the potential to cause the reinstatement of COVID-19 precautions was spring break. Having just recently passed and knowing that many students around the county went on trips, having a way to ensure students will not spread the virus is essential.
“I think we will see an increase as Europe is getting very bad, especially the UK, and we have often followed the trends of Europe,” senior Tommy Matthews said.
The county distributed at-home rapid tests in the week before spring break and requested that everyone take them upon their return from travels but outlined no way to hold anyone accountable for taking these actions.
“I think asking will not work, I think in order for it to work it would have to be mandated but MCPS could never mandate something like that, it would have to be enforced by having people either take tests in school or taking a PCR and submitting results to the school,” Matthews said.
Schools have been handing out these rapid tests since the beginning of this year, but there is no way to tell whether they are getting used, or just collecting dust on a shelf. Getting the tests to students is one thing but now the county needs to figure out how to encourage students to use them, especially in such a tumultuous time.
“People traveled overseas and interacted with a lot more people. Traveling gives COVID a chance to spread,” senior Kelsey Kwan said.
Kwan is concerned that many people traveling will mean a spike in cases at WCHS in the coming weeks. This sentiment is shared by many students, including Mathews.
“I think the schools should reinstate masks, but I don’t think they will,” Matthews said.
He traveled to Boston over the break to visit colleges, a necessary trip for someone in their senior year. While not all travel can be avoided, it is imperative that WCHS students and staff stay vigilant in the coming weeks and make use of the many rapid COVID tests provided by the county.
“It’s possible for it to be enforced if the staff actually check back with students and only let them into school if they’ve tested and shown that they are negative,” Kwan said. “If not it probably won’t be that enforced.”