A roundup of opinions on new COVID guidelines instituted by the DOE

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On Tuesday, August 12, the Department of Education (DOE) revealed its new plans regarding COVID guidelines and health protocols for the upcoming school year. The daily health screenings that staff and students had to fill out before entering the building are no longer required. While masks are “strongly recommended to be worn indoors,” according to the DOE, they will only be necessary for individuals who return to the building six days after testing positive until the tenth day. 

The vaccination requirements for students who participate in “high-risk extracurricular activities, including high-risk PSAL sports” will still be mandated for any school visitors and DOE employees. All school buildings will continue to be cleaned regularly and air purifiers will be placed in every classroom to ensure safety and ventilation. Students will also no longer be able to receive random in-school PCR testing. Instead, schools will offer at-home test kits to those who may have been exposed to COVID in school and those showing symptoms. An additional four tests per month will be given to each staff and student to utilize at home. 

Student Opinions 

Ayoub Ayoub, Sophomore: 

“A lot of people consider COVID to be over, which I partly agree with. Personally, I don’t wear masks unless I am in a high-risk area or a high-population area, which I think should be somewhat implemented in schools. The health screening was always useless. I think [these changes will help to] progress our school year into a more normal high school experience, which is what I think the majority of [students] want.” 

Jazlyn Lyric Febles, Freshman:

“I agree with the DOE [protocol changes] because unless COVID gets atrocious, with everyone’s vaccines I don’t see why there’s a problem with not having to wear a mask. I think it’s great we will have the choice.”

Hailey Phuntsok, Sophomore: 

The DOE making masks optional is great because you can choose whether or not you want to wear one but I personally feel like it would be better to have masks mandatory just to be safe. The health screening was a great way to check if it was safe for someone to be in the building but it did take quite a while to get inside the school, so no longer [requiring] it may be more efficient.”

Rabtah Jinan, Junior: 

“I think we eventually needed a way to shift back to not wearing masks and I just wish there would be more transparency and a requirement for masks in the case of new COVID surges. With the DOE taking off mask mandates and shortening quarantine time, I think the vaccines are needed to lessen the spread of COVID [when participating in high-risk extracurriculars].”

Abhijot Saini, Senior: 

“As we’re slowly recovering from this pandemic, I think it’s really important that we don’t rush anything. I think it’s crucial to make everyone in our community feel comfortable, whether that be with or without wearing masks. I don’t believe that we should totally move on from the COVID-19 protocols because it’s important that we still keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”

Photo by Erica Lee