New Strain of COVID-19 Implications

Families and their loved ones sit closely to the t.v. watching as the ball from Times Square begins to drop. The countdown begins starting from 10, and eventually the clock strikes 12 o’clock. Cheers are heard throughout the neighborhood as fireworks go off. Loud, booming come from the streets and the thoughts of a new year form in people’s minds, hoping for a better year.

2021 has started and a new year has begun, but the new year doesn’t mean the Corona Virus is being left behind. COVID-19 is still very prevalent within the community and the world and still affects many people’s lives. Not only is COVID-19 still going, but also new strains of CoronaVirus have been discovered and are currently being studied. Some of these were found in later 2020 and early 2021. Though they are said to not be more deadly, it has been found that these variants are more infectious. With this in mind the possibility of cases rising more isn’t zero, so this can possibly impact the school and the learning environment. 

“The more contagious virus does concern me because this means that more people will be exposed to this virus,” English teacher Claire Zimmerman said. “If the mortality rate of the mutated virus was lower, then it would not seriously trouble me. However, since the mortality rate is the same, that means more people have a chance of injury or death than before with the included precautions of masks and handwashing. This fact will always be devastating – especially as we pass the threshold of two million deaths worldwide.”

Fear knows no boundaries especially if it’s something that isn’t well known, but Dripping Springs ISD has put as much effort as possible to do what’s best for the community, and have a system in place if another lockdown is needed.

“If there is another lockdown, we would return to 100% remote learning [because] the safety and health of our staff and students are our first priority, and we want to maintain a safe learning environment for all,” principal Angela Gamez said.

Being remote offers a safe option, but some teachers do have a preference when it comes to getting to know their students and interacting with them.

“Under normal circumstances, I prefer in-person teaching because it is easier to build relationships with students, and the classroom environment is generally more enjoyable,” Zimmerman said.

In times like these though, teachers and staff members agree that the safety of students is a top priority and that even though online learning may not be ideal it would be the best option, and do try their best to be on top of remote learning and stay flexible.

“I understand that remote schooling is an important option to have available so that students, faculty, and their families stay safe during the pandemic,” Zimmerman said. “Dripping Springs ISD has encouraged teachers to stay consistent with their teaching strategies in case we had to go remote again, so there wouldn’t be too many changes on an academic level.”

With all this going on, it is important to understand that remote is the best option safety wise if cases were to drastically rise, but going all remote still has an effect on both students’ social lives and mental health.

“My biggest concern, if we went back into lockdown, would be that I wouldn’t be able to play for a state championship, and one last year of baseball with guys I have grown up with,” senior Christopher Frickel said. “I would be pretty frustrated. Mainly because it is my senior year, and having to end my high school career not at school, would be a disappointment.”

 However, students try to keep their hopes up that the new year will bring some good, and to have a more optimistic outlook for what is to come.

“If I’ve learned anything from 2020 it’s to not take anything for granted,” sophomore Lizzy McDowell said. “ This year I’m trying to stay positive and enjoy the moments and memories I’m able to make with my friends in-person.”

By Abby Hernandez, Staff Writer

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