The district is facing another spike in COVID cases after winter break attributed to the Omicron variant. Weekly district COVID case numbers have soared to nearly 1,500 students and almost 500 employees.
Freshman Vee Stoll is just one student who has been affected. Stoll describes the current situation as weird and calls it a “reality check” for everyone. Her class had to report to the auditorium after being left without a teacher or substitute.
“I’ve had other teachers from other classes sub my class because of short notice but I’ve never seen that many classes without subs,” Stoll said.
On Friday, Jan. 14 the campus had 42 teachers out – but only seven jobs still open for substitutes. Substitutes are experiencing a temporary increase in pay through June 30, with at least $110 a day for Non-Certified teachers with 60 or more college credits. According to the district website, “In addition, there will be a one-time $100 incentive for any teacher substitute who fulfills 20 days within one of the four 9-week periods. Teacher substitutes who accept assignments on Fridays will earn $20 extra that day.”
Each student is handling new protocols and numbers differently. For sophomore Tara Abrego, COVID has seemed manageable because she recovered quickly.
“Well, as somebody who just got over it, after the winter break, and I feel fine about it, because I got over it in one day,” Abrego said. “Recently I had started [to think it would get better] because I hadn’t received it, and then whenever I got it, I was like ‘dang it’. So even if you’re vaccinated, you can get it.”
Freshman Noah Troop has noticed many peers affected by the rise in COVID cases, and recognizes that the Omicron variant spreads quickly.
“Well, it is rising a lot, so it is kind of scary. I mean, I’m trying to stay safe and I’m fine,” Troop said. “I haven’t gotten COVID yet. I feel like as long as everybody stays safe, we’re fine.”
According to Troop, things improved for a short period of time, but then numbers went back up. He describes it as a “rollercoaster.”
“Each day, less and less people and just friends in general, are not in classes anymore,” Troop said.
For freshman Makayla Windsor, the general pandemic is nerve-wracking, but she also worries about those with COVID, especially her friends.
“It’s pretty scary, because you don’t know who could get it and people are getting sick with it a lot,” Windsor said. “As for my peers, I’ve seen a lot [being affected by COVID], especially over winter break, and especially for one of my peers in color guard who is absent because of it. And also seeing my family being affected and other families affected.”
Like Troop, Windsor has noticed a rise in cases just by paying attention.
“What I’ve noticed change is people’s behavior and also how people deal with things because of a lot of losses people have had, and how it’s affecting everybody else,” Windsor said.
And while managing COVID has become part of life now, Stoll is ready to be completely done with it.
“A lot of change has happened, and it’s been really shocking,” Stoll said. “I’m upset about how this is now the new normal. I accept it and do my best to stay safe, but it’s hard.”