behind the [lack of] Mask Requirements

Alexander Schmidt

This year, students started school on Aug. 31st, 2021. From the start of our school year principal Thomas Leitz, informed students, that masks were not mandatory. However, if you would like to wear a mask, you could. Compared to last year when students had to start the school year online and then halfway through the year when students were allowed to come back to school, they had to wear masks. Last school year at Utica High students attended school online on Wednesdays.
“Something I missed about a normal year was only having hour-long classes, but I liked having virtual classes on Wednesdays.” senior Olivia Thompson said, “There were only four classes last year, and I like how we can see people’s faces without the masks, and I miss the Wednesdays that we had last year.”
Last year students were required to walk one direction in the halls for safety reasons according to the school board. However this year we are no longer required to walk only one way in the halls.
“I felt that the one-way hallways were unnecessary because we all were right by each other anyways, whether it was us going in the same direction or not, all it did was make kids late for their classes,” junior Allison Felice said.
Most students who attended Utica high last year didn’t like the rule that they had to walk one way in the halls especially because that meant that a lot of kids had to go from upstairs to downstairs just to back upstairs. Some information from the Macomb County Health Department released about guidelines for quarantine after exposure to Covid-19
“A close contact is someone who has been within 6 feet of the student or staff person with confirmed or probable COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over 24-hours starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic persons, 2 days before to testing specimen collection). The determination of close contact should be made irrespective of the use of face coverings,” MCHD said.
If said student/staff member meets the definition of close contact then the question that remains is, has the contact been fully vaccinated or been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 90 days? If so then they may remain in school and participate in extracurricular activities as long as they have no symptoms.
Another question they should ask themselves is was the case and the contact at least 3 feet (but less than 6) apart? If they were within that proximity then you should do one or more of the following, Quarantine at home for 10 days, Quarantine at home for 7 days if the contact receives a negative PCR or antigen test performed at least 5 days after exposure, or remain in school and participate in extracurricular activities if they test negative daily for 7 days (using a rapid antigen test at home or through a health facility) before coming into the school. Wearing a mask indoors, as much as possible, is recommended for at least 7 days. However, if you’ve had the vaccination, the contact may remain in school and participate in extracurricular activities as long they have no symptoms. This being said the contact should be notified of the potential exposure and the contact should self-monitor for symptoms for 14-days. That concludes the new and improved COVID-19 rules and restrictions.
“I got called out of my second hour which is yearbook and I felt my stomach drop because I knew I was going to miss so much school and be very stressed and I had a big test in third hour and I really didn’t want to go, so I called my mom after reading the Covid policy email and knew if I got the rapid test and it was negative, I could come back to school. So my mom picked up and we booked it to the closest CVS, they were all sold out of tests. So we called and called different CVS as fast as we could trying to make it back before third hour so I didn’t have to miss my test. We finally found one, I tested myself in the car, it was negative and I bolted inside to the office showing my test results. They cleared me and I sprinted upstairs to my class within ten minutes left in the hour. My teacher Mrs. Larson did not want to give me the test but I insisted and finished it in time”, sophomore Daniela Cesario said.
“It really sucked because on top of being really sick with Covid I had to miss a little over a week of school which really set me behind and it’s hard to catch up on over a week’s worth of school work within the last few days because of Friday being the last day of this quarter”, junior Jenna Zions said.