As Omicron becomes more of a threat, Covid protocols become… less strict?


Mia Salbego, Writer

At this point, we’re all familiar with Covid’s newest variant and its traits—highly contagious and quickly spreading. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, the Omicron Variant is nearly 3 times more infectious than the Delta variant.  Not only that, but it seems to be targeting younger people specifically. More children than ever are becoming hospitalized—the U.S. alone had more than 325,000 new cases among children the week of Dec. 30, according to data published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

As Oshkosh North looks to decrease its Covid related safety measures, it’s difficult not to point out the questionable timing. 

Let’s, for a moment, think back to last January- school was still completely virtual, and would only switch to hybrid learning halfway through the month. At this time last year, Covid numbers were less than half of what they are now, with the CDC reporting 705,264 new cases on Jan. 5., 2022. So why are masks coming off now? 

Vaccination availability has certainly come a long way from January last year, but even so, there’s no way to ensure students who choose to go without a mask are vaccinated. It seems a bit contradictory that superintendent Dr. Bryan Davis is looking to follow the  CDC’s recommendation of shortening the isolation period for Covid-19 patients to five days for our teachers at North, yet won’t be following the CDC’s recommendation for any unvaccinated person to wear a mask indoors at all times. 

The lack of consistency within the decision making by our school district is becoming even worse with the changing mask policy as well. Already, the district has pushed back the date for masks becoming optionalalthough only to the end of January. At this point in time, I think we can all agree that students are and have been dealing with enough inconsistency and lack of structure over the past two years. Constantly changing mask protocols are just giving students more short-lived hopehope that could create even more disappointment, helplessness, and stress. 

Then comes the problem of enforcing masks once students have had the opportunity to go without one. People already disagree over mask mandates and protocols within our school, and removing and reintroducing the mask policy will only strengthen the disagreements and divide students and staff. Things students already deal with outside of Covid—peer pressure, rumors, etc.— will certainly increase with the political chaos mask wearing has unfortunately turned into.

I don’t want to wear a mask anymore—none of us do—even though I might take advantage of the fact it hides my unprepared face from time to time. I simply believe that the negatives greatly outweigh the positives of putting this optional mask policy in place at this point in time. 

As a district, we cannot claim to be putting our students and staff’s health first while picking and choosing which Covid protocols to follow.