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Many people have a huge fear of schools remaining open with the new Corona virus variant, Omicron. With the rates going up dramatically, people suggest that we should close school down and go back into the quarantine phase once again. According to The Sacramento Bee, the rate of Omicron cases is now 265 per 100,000 residents. During December 2021, the cases for Omicron were very mild. According to the CDC, 43 cases were related to Omicron, there was one hospitalization, and no deaths were reported. The misunderstanding of whether or not an individual can get Covid and eventually Omicron has spread amongst many people. Once you get Covid you are still capable of getting Omicron even if you are vaccinated and boosted. There have been a lot of cases where teachers get sick and don’t show up to school. At that point, teachers can just teach from home. Many individuals feel really unsafe with the current conditions while others believe they can maintain school to be a safe place with this new variant. In the Bay Area there is a high concern that schools will be returning to a remote learning condition.
With this rising fear of the Omicron virus growing, many teachers and students chose to stay home to ensure they are keeping themselves and their families safe. In Oakland, more than 12,000 students have signed a petition for schools in the district to go back to online learning. The school district attempts to provide students with a countless amount of masks and covered protections in eating areas to keep sanitation in school. With all these being provided, the Oakland School District does not approve of this strike. A senior at Washington High School named Daniel Stark portrays how he feels by saying, “Yes, I think school should shut down because about half of the classes that I’m in, almost half of the people are missing either because they are sick or fear getting infected. It’s better to just go online because students can stay on top of their work instead of missing school while they are out sick.” Stark continues by saying, “I’m a little bit scared because a lot of people I know have gotten really sick, I don’t want to spread the virus around to anyone.”
This controversial topic has many individuals feeling like the quarantine phase has been very damaging to their mental health. They believe that a safe school environment can be accomplished while still having a social life. A junior at Washington High School named Madina Loinab feels school should remain open. Loinab says, “It is important that we stay safe by maintaining social distance and wearing masks, and that is why I believe we can accomplish this. The quarantine phase was really hard because online classes were not motivating. It was hard to reach out to my teachers and get the help that I needed.” Loinab continues by saying, “I value my peers and my own education, we can still be safe while having a social life and following all the rules. With everyone being vaccinated we can really make this work.”
Teachers also have a strong opinion about this. A lot of the teachers feel unheard while they are struggling to provide efficient education to their students. A teacher at Washington High School named Mr. Muragu who teaches Core support says, “School shutting down is not up to me, although I do feel safe if everyone is playing their part in social distancing, wearing masks, reporting if they feel any symptoms and staying home if they are sick. Either way if school shuts down or remains open, we as teachers still have a responsibility to fulfill. At the same time students should be engaging in their academics. Honestly I prefer school to remain open as long as we all do our part.” Like Mr. Muragu, many teachers feel they can teach their students in person safely.
Lastly, everyone has their own levels of comfort as to whether or not school should shut down or stay open. We can see how this affects students and teachers differently. At the end of the day, as a community we should do everything we can to support each other and protect the boundaries of our peers. It’s important that everyone’s voice is being heard during these difficult times and understand that this is all affecting each individual in their own way.
Heba Kibboua is a senior at Washington. She grew up in Fremont, California but her roots are from Algeria and Afghanistan. This is her first year at the Hatchet. Her journalistic interests are mainly world issues, such as the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. She also has a passion for activism and equal rights. Her hobbies consist of baking and skating. An extracurricular activity she is a part of at school is being the president for ASU (Afghan Student Union). Her future plans are going to medical school to become a physician's assistant.