School averts post winter break COVID-19 outbreak

January 26, 2023 — by Andrew Lin
Photo by Andrew Lin
Depicted are the COVID cases from Aug. 22 to Jan. 20.
The number of cases per week has steadily decreased from a peak in mid-December.

During finals week in December, the silence in many classrooms was sometimes interrupted by coughing and sniffling. Against the school’s recommendation, many students had arrived at school sick. While many of these symptoms were caused by the flu or the common cold, COVID-19 cases also saw an increase from three to 12 cases that week.

That increase — and winter break travel — led district nurse Lisa Tripp and others to fear an explosion of COVID-19 cases following winter break, but it didn’t materialize: While six students and teachers self-reported a positive test result in the first week of the second semester — a lower number than expected —, only one case was reported in the second week back.

“I’m actually pleasantly surprised,” Tripp said. “Those couple of weeks before the break, we were starting to see a pretty significant rise, and I thought after the break, it’s either gonna keep going up, or maybe just everybody not being together might bring things down.”

Another example of the loosening attitudes about COVID-19 is the short waits to Inspire Diagnostics testing. As opposed to last year, where students left their classes en masse to get tested daily, the usage of the facilities is so low this year that Inspire Diagnostics may begin to show up for just half a day each week. According to a poll by the Falcon Instagram account with 87 responses, 74% of respondents have never utilized Inspire testing over the past semester. Tripp believes the ease of access and convenience of home test kits has made the on-campus PCR testing less of a necessity.

Still, Tripp strongly encourages students to stay home if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and get tested.

“We support people staying home when they’re sick: You shouldn’t be penalized for that,” Tripp said. “We’ll make accommodations for you to catch up with whatever you miss. We don’t want anybody here when they’re really actively sick.”

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