by Meadow Sandy, staff writer

SEPTEMBER 2021 – In early March 2020, schools shut down, countries closed their borders, and millions were infected with COVID-19. The pandemic has reached a breaking point; at the time of writing, there were 100,000 new hospitalizations in a week due to Covid infection. As the pandemic returns back to how it was in December, many wonder what this means for humanity and if humanity  will ever return back to normal. Additionally, the Delta variant has begun to take over, killing millions worldwide and keeping many in hospitals. As schools start back up, health officials worry how this will affect the spread of the Delta variant. 

Schools throughout the world are enacting mandates to protect their students and staff. Among these schools is Bio-Med Science Academy. With the onset of the new school year, Bio-Med is attempting to keep its students and staff safe. Measures include a mask mandate, cleaning surfaces after use, social distancing, and ensuring students are quarantining when needed. 

“There are so many variables to these questions, many of which depend upon vaccinations.  If a person is exposed, but vaccinated, then they must wear a mask indoors for 14 days, unless they take a test at day five and it’s negative.  If a person is exposed, but not vaccinated, then they must stay home for 10 days, as they did last year,” Charmayne Polen, chief operating officer and principal, stated. Bio-Med had charts are released to help Bio-Med families and we take precautions to keep the Bio-Med family safe. 

“We are consistently watching the CDC and ODE guidance on mask wearing.  If the situation changes and our county’s numbers decrease, we will look at that and determine if masks are still a necessity.  So, I can’t say if it’s temporary, as they may be all year if the numbers continue to rise.  No one has a definitive answer to that. We encourage social distancing as much as possible,” she continued.

Aaron Ettinger’s class practiced safe learning and established social distancing to fight Covid. Photo by Meadow Sandy, staff writer.

Masks are required for all students and staff members. Though many have their own opinions on the mask mandate, the CDC is still highly encouraging wearing masks and social distancing when possible. Masks have been enforced to keep everyone safe. The mask is believed to be the most efficient way of keeping the spread low so the outbreak does not get out of control. 

“The Delta variant is highly contagious, more than 2x as contagious as previous variants,” stated the CDC, “Some data suggest the Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous strains in unvaccinated persons.”

With the school year continuing in person, we have found a different way to keep track of Covid cases at each Bio-Med campus. The schools have made a chart for each week showing how many cases each campus has had in that one week. This chart also includes how many students and staff are quarantined. This tool will help parents and students keep track of how many cases are on their campus.   

Sig Leichliter, a seventh grader, offered his opinion of the mask mandate. “I don’t really care. To be honest, if it were my choice I wouldn’t be wearing a mask. I would probably just make it so there’s no masks because I absolutely hate wearing them all day,” he said.

“The mask mandate is right. We should wear a mask; it keeps everybody safe,” said Kamaira Huffman, a ninth grader, “We should enforce mandates more, because of the whole nose thing. Honestly, I think [Bio-Med is] they’re doing it quite well.” Huffman had recounted her own experience with COVID and continued to state, “It definitely sucks, I know that. I’m annoyed with the people who think it’s completely over and it’s not real; it evidently is. Ask the people who have losses in their families because of it.” More than 645,000 people have died because of Covid in the United States. Older adults are more likely to get Covid but everyone who is not vaccinated is at risk of contracting Covid or a strain of it.

Zach Hamilton, another ninth grader who was infected with COVID-19, feels resigned about the situation at hand. “I feel that there were people in power who could’ve done something about it but didn’t do anything about it. I think that everyone should get the vaccine and keep wearing their masks until there’s no cases.” Hamilton recounted his experience with COVID-19, saying, “I’ve had it three times. None [of the symptoms] were ever severe but I still can’t taste right. Like nothing tastes right to me at all and nothing smells right.” As Bio-Med enforces COVID precautions ,  some students, like Hamilton and Huffman, still get infected. 

In mid-December 2020, the first dose of vaccines were rolled out to essential workers, eventually becoming available to teens. According to US Today, more people become reluctant to get the vaccine, this is due to fake news and their own beliefs. As many think that the vaccine is unreliable, this causes the unvaccinated to be the most at risk of contracting the Delta variant stated by the CDC. The age range of the vaccine and people not believing in it will also affect children who are unable to get vaccinated due to the age range. About 15% of cases in the last month are cases of children who are unable to get vaccinated, said NPR News. 

Those who are vaccinated can still carry COVID-19. Even with taking the correct precautions such as wearing a mask indoors, getting a vaccine, cleaning surfaces, social distancing, and using sanitizers frequently, COVID-19 can still be spread. 

As the cases of the Delta variant rise, Bio-Med continues to implement precautions to protect staff and students as new mandates come out to help improve the infection rates of its students and staff. 

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