It Affects More than One: The Consequences of Coming to School With COVID-19

The+number+of+student+and+staff+cases+per+school+in+the+SUHSD%2C+in+addition+to+staff+vaccination+rates+can+be+found+on+the+SUHSD+website.

Sequoia Union High School District

The number of student and staff cases per school in the SUHSD, in addition to staff vaccination rates can be found on the SUHSD website.

Birdie Kwan, Copy Editor

When a COVID-19 case breaks through the protections of our school, numerous time-consuming steps occur behind the scenes. 

Woodside Health Aide Nanette Pasion said the consequences of students testing positive trigger a strenuous, tedious process of requesting seating charts, notifying families, contact tracing, and interviewing the student with a positive case.

“It kind of pulls me away from my normal health office duties,” Pasion said. “It takes away from me being able to give all my attention the way I usually do to the students who come in throughout the day. One case really takes more than one whole workday to get through.”

One of these cases occurred when a senior at Woodside High School attended school with COVID-19 and spread the virus to multiple Woodside students. Following the sudden spread, October’s reported COVID-19 cases increased to 11 students and one staff member, keeping those 12 people from school for 10 days (after the first symptom or positive test).

“[The school] said that I could not return any earlier. I cannot go to any school events. I cannot go to practices.” Brynn Adasiewicz, a senior affected by the recent spread, said.

Woodside High School has an 81.33% staff vaccination rate, and an overall of 24 reported cases so far this school year, 12 of which were reported this October. Please note, Woodside provides free COVID-19 testing every Monday and Thursday, learn more here. Once students report their case, they receive emails from both the school and the CDC (depending on where they got their test) on what to do next.

“I had to stay home, and then [Woodside] periodically checked in with my parents and asked how I was doing,” Adasiewicz said. “Then also, because I tested positive through Stanford Medical, San Mateo County actually sent an email saying, ‘This is what you need to do as well.’ So I basically had two sources giving me information about what I needed to do to stay quarantined.”

Woodside High School English teacher Lisa Camera sympathizes with the students affected by sudden spreads on campus and condemns irresponsible behavior when dealing with and preventing the escalation of COVID-19 cases.

“It’s real, and it’s happening, and to think that those kids are denied their school experience for two weeks is an injustice,” Camera said.

Alongside the restrictions on school events and sports for students, the uptick in cases had a major impact on Woodside teachers, especially those teaching predominately senior classes, such as math and science teacher Stephanie Finander.

“[My family] wants me to wear my mask all the time at home. They’re almost thinking that I should just stay somewhere else and stay out of the house,” Finander said.

The effects cases have on families with young children leaves Finander unhappy. She emphasized that the irresponsibility of one individual causes larger issues to countless people, not just those who come in contact with the person with a positive case.

“There are teachers who, when they get exposed, have young children and they can’t kiss them goodnight,” Finander said. “It’s really awkward to say, ‘Hey, I’m really scared because I got exposed to COVID. I know that makes you scared, but I can’t give you a hug to make you feel better.’”

Many teachers and students alike have a critical response to the increase of COVID-19 cases. However, they are relieved with Woodside’s precautions and steps taken to contain the spread. 

“I feel like you know what we’re doing is working…some people are testing positive, then they’re not spreading it,” Finander said. “Last time I talked to Mr. Velschow, he said that there hadn’t been a transmission at school yet,… and that makes me feel so much better.”

But despite these precautions and efforts, many still want to implement more ways to prevent sickness within the school. Camera greatly supports the new California vaccine mandate and believes the school should be more aggressive with enforcing vaccines, instead of waiting until other districts take action.

“I feel like at this point, while I understand your freedom of choice, if it puts others at risk, then I think there are consequences to that. Maybe you don’t get to be with 30 other students in the classroom,” Camera said.

Until COVID-19 calms down more, many of Woodside’s staff and students urge people to stay cautious and stay responsible. Students, teachers, and staff, like Pasion, are upset over the infections, and hope for less recklessness involving the virus in order to optimize students’ high school experience.

“People still need to do their due diligence and be responsible in what they partake in not only at school, but after school when they’re off-campus,” Pasion said. 

Despite many parts of our pre-COVID-19 lives returning, the virus has not left and continues to hurt millions of people. 

“I think now I feel like my concerns are greater… two years post the start of all this, people are dropping their guard a little bit and COVID hasn’t gone away and it’s not going to go away,” Pasion said.

However, school resources make it easier for all on campus to stay safe. Many praised the ease and accessibility of tests on campus. With these accessible to all, the containment of COVID-19 ultimately requires everyone at Woodside to do their own part.

“Be smart about [your] decisions and take responsibility in not only [your] own choice, but also to be considerate of the fact that there are others around that could potentially get sick,” Pasion said. “It’d just be nice if we all cared for each other.”

Camera stresses the importance of our community realizing the reality and direness of COVID-19 at school; she encourages us to band together to stay at school and maintain a crucial experience and educational environment for students.

“Do the research. Look at the science. And let’s rally together and do what we have to do to keep each other upright,” Camera said.