There is a large room, filled with administrators. Everyone has a mask. Papers are spread across desks. Every decision that was made was double-checked. Triple checked. Sometimes more. Painstaking days, weeks, and months were spent working to create plans that would protect students.
“We met as a district administrative committee multiple, multiple times, to start developing and going through that template that was given to us,” said NS Principal Christine Straatman.
This plan is not something that was just thrown together. The process started at the very top of our state’s government, with the Governor and the Utah State Health Department.
“[The Guidelines] come from the USBE, the Governor’s directive, and they come from the Utah State Health Department,” said Superintendent Nan Ault. “We had to submit to the state a COVID plan, and for the plan, we had to have options for different scenarios.”
The whole process was rather complicated. When simplified, it looked like this. First, the Governor sent out a directive, instructing schools to reopen. Then, the USBE, in conjunction with the Utah State Health Department released a handbook of best practice procedures. Then, the individual school districts made templates that were submitted to the USBE, and once they were approved, they were given to individual schools.
“The Schools were required by USBE, which is the Utah State Board of Education, to come up with a plan so that we can return to school and open safely after the pandemic,” Straatman said.
Everyone who took part in the creation of these plans did all they could to ensure that the students at NS would be safe. This seems to have transferred well from paper to life. Of the respondents that NS times had for the survey, 80 percent of students feel as though the school is doing a good job of minimizing the threat of transmission of Covid-19.
“I think they are doing a very good job,” senior Morgan Drew said, “I think the principal is doing a great job of telling us to put our masks back on and stuff. I think the school, and the school board, and the health department, I think they’re all doing a very good job of keeping us safe so that we don’t have to shut down.”
However, while most people agree that the school is doing a good job and that it’s necessary, there is a small portion of the population who think that the school could do better.
“I do think that masks are definitely a huge deal, and spreading people out at least,” senior Adam Cox said. “I feel like that’s where the school could do a bit better, first of all just make sure we’re always calling out people who have their masks down, making sure as long as you’re in the building you’ve got that on.”
The biggest thing seems to be the wearing of masks. According to responses to our survey, 50 percent of students at NS felt that wearing masks was somewhat difficult. 10 percent said that wearing masks was highly difficult.
“They suck,” said Drew. “They’re hard to breathe in, they make it so I can’t see others’ faces and emotions, and I’m really like a social person, so that makes it hard for me to learn, especially when I can’t see the teachers face and emotions. It just sucks.”
But while this seems to be the majority opinion on masks, it isn’t the only way to look at things. From responses in the survey, we had about 40 percent of students respond that it was not difficult at all.
“I personally don’t find it difficult at all,” said Cox. “I think it’s not a big deal in the slightest for me. The worst that happens is that it gets a little stuffy in there when I am a little physically active, and that’s the worst that I’ve ever had.”
Another question that was raised was how dangerous Covid-19 is. To gauge the student opinion, we asked students to rate the threat level out of ten. Ten was the most dangerous, and one was the least.
“I think that COVID, especially here is a one out of ten threat. I think in a bigger city the threat would be a lot higher, but because we don’t have as many people, it’s easier for us to keep COVID from spreading.” said Drew. “I mean, if there are people who are at risk or something, I’m ok with wearing my mask to make sure they’re comfortable, but I don’t think that it’s all that dangerous.”
Once more, this seems to be how the majority of people feel. According to the survey, the majority of students at NS felt as though masks were either unnecessary or neutral. However, even with that being said, only ten percent of students who responded to the survey said that they would frequently remove their masks.
The school recently had its first confirmed COVID case. Due to the one positive test, thirty students were sent home to quarantine for two weeks. When asked, both Cox and Drew responded with how this new information changed things.
“My opinions haven’t changed,” said Drew. “I think that it’s still not a big threat because it’s being handled appropriately.”
Cox, however, hopes that the fact that there is a case here at NS might convince some of those less willing to wear a mask and take the proper precautions to rethink.
“I hope this open the eyes of a lot of students to see that it’s not something that’s only in these big cities, or only in these other countries,” Said Cox. “We can all do our part to help our community stay healthy. I think seeing a case this close to us, and where it might eventually shut down the school, it might make people realize what they need to be doing.”
There’s no debating that this is a controversial topic. However, the one thing that most people can agree on is that we need to stay vigilant. The risk is there, and if we relax the standards that we have set, there is a very good chance that NS would have to shut down again.
“I’m proud of everyone,” said Ault. “I’m proud of students and teachers and the community and all the people who’re willing to take the precautions necessary to keep the school open. Wearing the mask is really the most important factor and it’s what keeps schools open right now. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay home when you’re sick.”