At the beginning of this school year, there was no guarantee that classes would continue to be in-person. It was uncertain if masks would be required for the whole year, and many worried over the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak at school. Now that we are halfway through the year, this uncertainty is heightened by the growing presence of variants. Omicron is a new strain of COVID-19 that was first declared a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 26, 2021. Since then, Omicron has spread quickly and now accounts for about 59 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the US.
Over winter break, many students, such as freshman Magnolia Hougan, worried about how the new Omicron variant would affect the return to school for the second semester.
“I was concerned that a lot of teachers were going to be missing and that they were going to have to close down the school,” said Hougan. “But I wasn’t that concerned about my own personal health.”
For junior Hazel Fosket-Hydes, the transition back to in-person learning has also been mostly smooth.
“I’m honestly feeling quite comfortable. When I first came back, it was all kind of crazy, but it feels like I’ve been back with masks on forever. It all just feels kind of normal.”
But COVID-19 is still lurking in the background, and Fosket-Hydes said, “I’m just excited for a chance that things could go back to slightly normal before I graduate.”
Alessandra Ionescu-Zanetti, a junior at BHS, is happy to be back to in person learning, but she shared that it’s still not exactly how it was before COVID-19. In addition to wearing masks, COVID-19 has become a factor in planning school events and functions, becoming something that “people have to worry about that we just didn’t worry about before.”
However, the return to school has been overwhelmingly positive for Ionescu-Zanetti and has given her a new appreciation for things she once took for granted. “I’ve become a lot more grateful for the friends I have at school and being able to see them everyday.”
Junior Abbey Chen shared that at the beginning of the year, they were worried that COVID-19 would spread through the school. So far, they said, it has gone well, though there have been some close calls. However, with the arrival of Omicron, it’s even more likely that COVID-19 will spread.
Many students that the Jacket spoke to shared that they would be upset if school shut down and if their classes moved online.
“I really hated online school, and it did not work for me, so I would not feel good about [going back online],” Hougan said.
Sophomore Colina Harvey pointed out that in this situation, there are multiple factors to be considered.
“It’s hard because I do think it’s kind of risky to be here [in person], but also I don’t want to go back to online school,” Harvey said. “[Online school] was bad for a lot of people’s mental health, including mine.”
Harvey felt that going back to remote school to address the spread of omicron seemed inevitable, and she was “honestly kind of surprised” that classes have continued to be in person to date.
Junior Naomi Nickolaus has felt safe so far and is “excited to be back.” Despite the threat of Omicron, she is hoping to stay at school in person.
“I think that [moving school online] would be a big transition, and we’ve already gone through a lot of transition phases,” Nickolaus said. “I hope we can stay safe and ride it out.”