Students and faculty adjust back to in-person school amid COVID-19 concerns

Many+students+grouped+together+outside+with+their+backpacks+on+the+ground+or+benches

Praneetha Bhogi

Amid surges in COVID-19 cases at Dougherty Valley, students eat lunch outside following the return to in-person school after winter break.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and recent surge in Omicron cases, students and faculty at Dougherty Valley High School expressed mixed feelings about adjusting back to in-person school after winter break.

With over 150 cumulative cases at Dougherty Valley since the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, some expressed concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in school, which has accelerated following the surge in cases during winter break.

“I was a little anxious. I felt like there wasn’t a ton of communication on if there were going to be any differences from the district in particular, with cases rising as steadily as they were,” Justin Worley, an English teacher at Dougherty Valley, said.

DVHS sophomore Jeffery Han echoed similar concerns regarding the spread of the Omicron within school.

“I do have some concerns about the Omicron variant. It’s spreading a lot,” Han said. “I see a lot of kids during lunch eating close together, without their masks on, so I’m pretty sure COVID is going to spread everywhere anyway.”

However, DVHS junior Edwin Liu believes that with sufficient precautionary measures, the spread of COVID-19 in school can be effectively mitigated.

“I don’t closely track whatever cases are in school, but I think recently, it’s been pretty low. So I’m pretty optimistic about the future,” Liu stated. “Keep your mask on during class, that’s really it.”

Worley corroborates these suggestions and overall believes that such measures can heavily reduce the risk of COVID-19.

“Wear a N95 if you have one, or do double masking or stuff like that. Try to avoid taking your mask off inside, particularly near other people, and eat outside,” Worley said. “One thing that I have been impressed with throughout returning to school this year is that I feel generally like my students are pretty safe. I’m pretty conscious about those things, whereas I don’t think that would be the case at other high schools, even either high schools in our district.”

Overall, some students welcomed the returning to in-person school after winter break, despite risks of COVID-19.

“It’s obviously been very refreshing to be back in class to be face to face,” Liu stated. “I think the benefits of being in person is being face to face with the teachers, that sort of class interaction is very important.”

Others in the school community also expressed optimism for the future of the school year.

“I’m really proud of our students and our local site staff for generally making it feel like a safe environment,” Worley concluded.