The 2022-2023 school year has begun and a lot has changed, but one thing that continues to persist is the covid-19 pandemic. The summer break allowed time for people and organizations to reevaluate the situation as a whole. This has led to some changes in policies, the dramatic decrease in mask wearing by students, new variants, and as always, changing information and guidelines.
Let’s begin with a reminder of what covid is and how it spreads. It is spread by aerosols which are tiny particles infected with the virus. These are normally spread from person to person by talking, breathing, singing, coughing, or sneezing. Data shows that a person is most infectious around two days before showing symptoms. Covid-19 causes respiratory symptoms, which include but are not limited to fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, chills, body aches, fatigue, and more. Not all cases of covid have symptoms, some people are asymptomatic. People can refuse to get tested, and spread the virus unknowingly. Close contact exposure is being within six feet of a covid positive person for more than fifteen minutes.
There have been some updates to the policies since the end of the school year. Masking is recommended for students but required for both staff and visitors. As always, students are expected to stay home if they are showing any of the Covid-19 symptoms. If a student does test positive, they should stay home for six days and return to school wearing a mask until the tenth day. A student who is still symptomatic on the sixth day must show proof of a negative test. A student who is not showing symptoms but has been in close contact with a person who has tested positive does not have to quarantine. One of the largest policy changes following the summer is reporting. Schools have stopped giving daily updates on the diagnosis of covid-19. You can still find this information in spreadsheet form by clicking here.
The week of September 3, 2022, CHS reported 24 students with positive cases whereas in the same week last year, CHS had only reported 1 student with a positive case. A local nurse whom I spoke with believes that it is partly because people are tired of the entire situation and are less likely to follow the guidelines, which are getting more lax as well. Another reason is the presence of the omicron variant. The omicron variant is efficient at spreading and better than other variants at getting through the vaccine’s protection. This does not mean you should not get the vaccine, as it offers protection against longer and more severe cases of the disease. Data shows that this variant is not as severe in intensity, people are not on ventilators like they were when Covid-19 originally started. . The number which is being reported is also most likely wildly inaccurate since most people are doing an at-home test. These tests do not get reported and there is less testing occurring. The increase in positive cases affects not only the student population but also the greater Charlottesville area. It has caused an overall spike in covid positive cases in our community. There is also accounting for user error in covid test taking – not using enough drops, not swabbing correctly, etc.
Now looking forward, nobody knows exactly how this is going to affect the upcoming school year. I talked to people around the school who gave advice and warned about the possible effects. Mr.Pitt wants students to be aware of the situation and understands how masking and vaccination can help prevent an extreme outbreak. He is recommending that students should all follow the guidelines to make this school year a safe one. A tenth-grade student I spoke with wants fellow students to be mindful of the situation and begin wearing a mask if covid begins to rise. Recovering from covid affects energy levels, the lungs, and the immune system. It takes a while to feel 100% after covid. Stay safe during this school year.