By: Alec Stuart
The district’s COVID-19 response has taken a downward trend.
As COVID-19 vaccinations have rolled out across the country over the past year, the District has had a largely decent response to COVID-19, with mandatory masks in school, strong encouragement of vaccinations, and similar stuff. This, and so many other examples, have been the driving force behind the recovery from the pandemic this country has experienced. With the advent of the Delta strain and other variants, however, the response has begun to falter in a time when a cautious approach is more necessary than ever.
At the same time the Class of 2021 graduated, the district decided to make masks optional for anybody going to school. As of today, they have held this decision still, largely due to the Governor’s ban on mask mandates in schools. Regardless of legal issues, this is a risky move that increases the chances of another COVID-19 outbreak and the hindrance of much progress that has been made.
“Last year they did a great job virtually,” said senior Audrey Balsdon, “I think with the new Superintendent, things took a turn for the worse; I think they bent to the anti maskers without any worry of implications.”
As of Sep. 10, there have been 64 cases at the high school alone, with 195 district-wide. These are the consequences of making decisions based on pressure and not actual data. When I went to the board meeting the night before school began, most the attendees repeatedly berated and booed at the board with anti mask and vaccination sentiment, so much so that local law enforcement had to remove someone from the stage. Like I said, this kind of pressure has scared the board and Superintendent into making decisions without much thinking through. Not only this, but the district worries, given its size, that doesn’t have the resources to enforce health guidelines without legal action from the state government. However, this is not the whole picture.
“It’s thought provoking, I do consider our legal system to be apt for change, and it’s not strict”, Balsdon said, “challenges can be made to what we find unconstitutional and irrational; it’s legally possible.”
The district needs to realize two things: first, that the anti maskers at the board meetings are a vocal minority, and second, that the legal system, while tough to work through, is meant to be flexible. They cannot give up on enforcing health precautions at this time. With the Delta variant spreading rapidly throughout the US, we cannot risk losing all of the progress we have made in the past year.