COVID Testing More Important Than SATs
• Students and schools under heavy pressure to pass tests and keep things moving forward.
Since Los Angeles County area schools returned to in-person learning in the spring of 2021, the everyday life of students has been relatively unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sure, schools had mask and social distancing rules, at least for a period of time, but students were rarely missing school due to contacting the novel coronavirus.
That was until Omicron hit.
Ever since the new variant arrived in the United States and made itself more prominent over schools’ winter break, an exponentially greater number of students have missed school, whether that be due to contracting COVID or being designated a “close contact” with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
The first few days back from winter break were bedlam at many schools. Some schools implemented testing protocols for everyone before returning to campus. Some schools tested students on the first or second day back from break. Others did no testing at all.
Regardless, many classrooms sat just three-quarters, or, in some cases, half full. Many of the students missing class were those designated “close contacts,” which the CDC defines as “Someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.”
By this definition, many students were designated close contacts simply by sitting close to someone in class who later tested positive.
The CDC rules for close contacts have been changing, seemingly by the week, since Omicron hit. The first week back from winter break, students could not return to school until they received a negative test if they were designated a close contact. Since then, the protocol has changed so that students wait until the fifth day after exposure to get tested for COVID, but do not have to miss any school unless that test comes back positive.
The change in CDC protocol has allowed for fewer students to miss classes, as only COVID-positive students need to remain home.
Schools are trying to do everything they can to make their way through this historic surge in COVID-19 cases, desperately trying to avoid going back online, which resulted in more than a year of remote classes at the beginning of the pandemic.
Having mixed opinions themselves, students continue to make their way to campus for in-person learning each day, hoping that they’re not next in line to contract COVID.