Photo by Toby Goldfarb '23
Although it seems like doors just opened yesterday, several schools across the county have already reported cases of COVID-19 among their students and staff members. Westport, Weston and Norwalk have all officially released knowledge of cases in the past two weeks alone. However, it is difficult to neglect the likelihood that these cases could have been prevented with more efficient protocols and more emphasis on social distancing off of school property.
Granted that some may consider it premature, Staples High School should have even more specific arrangements on deck in case of emergency. Though this may seem frightening to some, COVID-19 is almost unavoidable if handled improperly. Thus, the question arises — how can Staples correctly handle COVID-19 cases?
One measure Staples could take is to adopt a precaution implemented at Norwalk High School — a health screening that all students and administrators take before entering the building. A screening like this could be beneficial for Staples students and administrators because it provides another barrier between healthy students and those exhibiting symptoms. Some may brush off a cough or a sore throat, when in reality, situations like these can deteriorate into something much more serious.
Nonetheless, schools are unable to restrict students’ lives outside of academics. Administrators cannot punish students for not abiding by social distancing when they leave the school, because it is outside of their jurisdiction; they can only take preventative measures in school and then deal with the repercussions when someone gets sick.
With all of our current protocols, Staples is mostly on track to dodge COVID-19. Even so, students must abide by the honor code and wear masks when applicable and maintain social distance in school, as well as in their lives outside of school.
Weston and Norwalk have both released knowledge of cases and, respectively, briefly switched to online school for cleaning and shut down programs such as Norwalk High School’s P-TECH. With this in consideration, it is hard not to examine the possibility that closure is in the near future for Westport Public Schools as well — even if just briefly. After all, there is only so much that one way hallways, masks, plexi-glass, wiping down tables and hand sanitizer can prevent.
With these unpromising advancements, the efficiency and effectiveness of the mitigation rules at Staples and Bedford need to be reevaluated, especially due to their large student body. Staples, in particular, should be facing this issue head on, and could work to reassure and inform its students as to how their protocols will work to keep us safe.
It is imperative that Staples students continually maintain social distance to protect themselves from the virus and sustain personal responsibility in upholding these safety precautions.