School should test for Covid


Naomi Yaeger , Staff Writer

Last week, The Record reported on two of the school’s new COVID policies for the 2022-23 school year: students who contract COVID must isolate for five days without access to remote education, and the school will no longer test students for COVID. Combined, these policies discourage testing for COVID-19 and lead to more people contracting the deadly virus.

As necessary as it is to quarantine after contracting COVID, any Horace Mann student who can avoid missing school will do so. Missing five days of school means making up five days worth of classwork, homework, tests, projects, and quizzes. Add extracurricular commitments, and those five days of “rest” become five days of stress.

Now consider that students don’t have to quarantine unless they test positive, and the choice to test is entirely up to them. I understand the temptation to avoid testing, especially because when I had COVID, my symptoms were pretty mild. In fact, if I wasn’t afraid of spreading COVID to my family, I probably wouldn’t test at all.

For most students, testing is simply an inconvenience. Many won’t test even after being notified of close exposure to avoid the mandatory quarantine. Without a positive test forcing them to stay home, students who have asymptomatic or light symptoms will continue to attend school, and students with worse symptoms will miss as little school as possible, staying home for only a few days and returning even if they continue to feel sick.

As a nation and as a school, we have made so much progress in fighting COVID — we have finally returned to a normal year with sports games, field trips, and club activities back in-person. Unfortunately, if COVID rates rise, the school will have to reinstate protective policies such as mandatory masking to protect students, faculty, and families.

COVID is more dangerous than the flu and the common cold. According to the New York Times, over 300 Americans continue to die from COVID everyday, while less than 77 Americans died daily from the flu in 2019. Unfortunately, many Americans have chosen to ignore these statistics, sick of hearing about COVID and unable to comprehend the staggering number of lives lost. However, ignoring the numbers does not magically make them disappear, and we don’t get to choose when the virus stops spreading.

To protect our community and to prevent the need for a mandatory masking requirement, I urge the school community to self-test for COVID after an exposure or getting sick. In my opinion, occasionally taking a rapid, 15-minute test for COVID is a much smaller imposition than having to wear a mask for a 7+ hour long school day. 

Additionally, the school can make the isolation period easier for students by reinstating a virtual learning option for those who contract COVID. Students who are exposed to the virus will be more likely to test if testing positive doesn’t mean they need to miss class. While five days at home may feel like an eternity, protecting the health of our families and our community is a much more urgent goal.