Jesuit Chronicle

Opinion: We Should Not Open Up Jesuit

A few months ago, I would have agreed that school should be back in session. This opinion was not backed by any research but simply a selfish musing. School has been closed since March 2020 and we have now endured almost nine months of quarantine and isolation. While I would love to return to school to see my peers and be able to participate in typical senior year activities, I know it is not safe.

With COVID-19 spreading so rapidly, the idea of returning to school is in the far future. While masks, home room lunch periods, and health screenings are necessary precautions, they would only limit the spread.

The requirement for students to wear a mask at all times may be helpful, however, there is no guarantee that masks will in fact stay intact through the school day. Students will need to remove their masks to eat and drink and often masks are removed in restroom settings. Teachers cannot be watching students at all times and we do not have the resources to ensure that masks stay on during school hours.

However, even if students keep their masks on at all times, studies show that masks are not 100% effective. In an article published by Stephanie Pappias titled “Do face masks really reduce coronavirus spread?” the effectiveness of different kinds of mask is explained.

“CDC also does not recommend surgical masks for the general public. These masks don’t seal against the face but do include non-woven polypropylene layers that are moisture resistant. In a surgical mask, about 70% of the outside air moves through the mask and about 30% travels around the sides,” Pappias wrote. “That leaves fabric masks, which currently are recommended for general use by the CDC. Fabric masks also allow air in around the sides, but lack non-woven, moisture-repelling layers. They impede only about 2% of airflow in.”

No matter what mask is worn, there is always some airflow that is let in. As Stephanine Pappias explains, you may be at a lower risk depending on which mask you choose to wear, but the underlying fact is that masks do not work all of the time. The only method that is proven to be 100% effective is to stay at home.

Masks are to be used as an add on for safety. It is a common misconception that masks are the only precaution that people must take. Stephanie Pappias elaborates on this.

“‘Putting a face mask on does not mean that you stop the other practices’” Pappias wrote quoting Assistant Director of Public Health in the Office for Science and Technology Policy May C. Chu.  “‘It does not mean you get closer to people, it does not mean you don’t have to wash your hands as often and you can touch your face. All of that still is in place, this is just an add-on.’”

At school it will be difficult to maintain a reliable distance from every student or faculty member that you will pass through the day. As May C. Chu stated, it is not enough to just wear a mask, you must still maintain social distances.

In an ideal world, masks always work. Even so, students are still at risk once they leave school and are exposed to those who are not following CDC protocol. While you may think that you are interacting only with your “bubble,” your bubble is often larger than you think. If even one person interacts with someone without their mask who is not in your bubble, they could risk contracting and spreading the virus.

There is also a large opinion that even though we are not able to go back to school that we should be able to participate in sports. In my opinion, we should focus on getting back to school first. With constant motion (and in some cases physical contact) it is easy for masks to slip while in close proximity, not to mention athletes need to lower their mask to drink water. In the event that an athletes mask does slip while they are infected with the virus, they could spread it to their whole team, who will then likely spread it even further. This fact is evidenced by the numerous college football games that have been cancelled due to COVID-19.  While I am disappointed to potentially be missing my track season, as I am sure many other students are, it is too risky to even practice.

Of course, I realize that the greater majority of high school students are young, healthy, and will not be deeply impacted by the virus. This is not the reason to take precautions. Many students live with or frequently come in contact with those who are at high risk. I visit my grandparents often and know because they are compromised, I need to be extra careful. Even if you don’t, someone you come in contact with might so it is important to always be cautious.

The only way it is safe to return to school, sports, and all other activities is when there is an effective vaccine that is easily accessible. Without one, an airborne virus is too difficult to contain with a group of people as large as a high school. I know that everyone wants to return to school, but right now, it is not safe.

 

Sources:

Live Science

Opinion: Let’s Open Up Jesuit

With Christmas break fast approaching, Jesuit is rounding the corner on it’s ninth month of digital learning. I think it’s time to return to in-person learning.

With COVID-19 raging throughout the United States, it seems impossible for schools to remain open. In addition, Oregon has been having record high case counts recently, the most being on December 4 when over 2000 people tested positive. So why would I think that Jesuit, along with other Portland schools, should open?

I think that kids should be in school not because the danger of the virus is low. The coronavirus is a very dangerous virus, and as a community we need to take it seriously by social distancing and wearing a mask. But, that does not mean we cannot go to school safely if the correct measures are put in place.

In other places, students have already returned to the classroom for in-person learning. For example, schools in New York City closed just last month after being open for almost eight weeks. Despite cases rising back up to their April highs in the state, elementary schools will return to hybrid learning on December 7. And outside of the states, as the city of Toronto, Ontario entered its second lockdown in November, schools were one of the only places to remain open, while bars and restaurants closed (New York Times).

So what does this mean? Why are all these different places reopening their school doors while Oregon has kept theirs shut? Simple, other places realized that schools are not the cause of spread; the state of Oregon has failed to see that.

I went to Washington Square Mall the other day, and it was a packed house. Although masks were being worn throughout the building (by most), I had to dodge my way through the crowd to keep my distance as much as possible from others. But, as I was doing it, I had a moment where I stopped and looked around at the mayhem and thought, “Why is this allowed to happen? Why is this mall allowed to be open at seemingly maximum capacity while our schools, who would take the necessary steps to reopen safely, are not allowed to open?”

Not only am I calling for a reopen to schools, but so are prominent health experts. The CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, said during a press conference that schools need to be open because they are not what’s causing the spread.

“There is extensive data that we have…[that confirms]…K-12 schools can operate with face-to-face learning and they can do it safely and they can do it responsibly,” Redfield said (C-SPAN). “The infections that we’ve identified in schools when they’ve been evaluated were not acquired in schools. They were actually acquired in the community and in the household.”

Not only is the CDC director on my side, but even Dr. Anthony Fauci said that to slow case rates, bars and restaurants should be closed and schools should be open.

“Close the bars and keep the schools open,” Fauci said. “If you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected” (Business Insider).

But what about those who are immunocompromised or who are seeing immunocompromised people? Or what about those who just don’t feel comfortable returning to school? For those who don’t feel comfortable returning to in-person learning, an option of online learning should still be available for them. This would allow each student to decide when they would like to return to in-person learning, appeasing those who are both for and against it.

Again, I would like to reiterate that I am not downplaying the severity of the virus. My family and I have been following CDC guidelines to the T, and I also have grandparents that I visit with a mask on, so I would not advocate for a return to school if I didn’t believe that we could do it safely.

While I understand concerns expressed by individuals who may not feel comfortable returning to in-person learning, national health experts have recommended that we do so, and I think we should listen to what they say.

 

Sources:

Worldometers.com

New York Times: How Toronto Plans to Keep Schools Open Amid Its Second Lockdown

New York Times: New York City to Close Public Schools Again as Virus Cases Rise

Politico

C-SPAN

Business Insider

F.D.A. Approves Pfizer Vaccine. Will People Take It?

Pictured above is a cartoon version of the COVID-19 vaccine

After nine months of quarantining in the United States due to the coronavirus, the F.D.A. has finally approved Pfizer’s vaccine. But will the efforts of the drug makers pay off with a willingness from people to take it?

With the vaccine being approved Friday December 11, anti-vaxxers have taken to social media to express their grievances. On Governor Kate Brown’s Instagram page, @oregongovbrown, users criticized the vaccine on one of her recent post.

“Our family will not utilize a product where the manufacturer is completely free from all liability, especially one that has not gone through proper safety testing and sent via Warp Speed to the marketplace,” one user commented.

“In 10 years there will be commercials saying, “If you received the COVID Vaccine, you may be eligible for compensation, call Jones Law,” another said.

While some on social media have strongly expressed their stance of being against the vaccine, many Jesuit students said they would be willing to take it.

 

“I’d be pretty willing at this point. The rates of it being effective are pretty high. I would like to look into it a little more, but I’m pretty willing.” –Astrid Foster: Junior

“I’d definitely take it as long as they prove that it’s effective and safe. I take the flu vaccine every year so I don’t see how this would be any different.” -Stella Anastasakis: Junior

“I would take the vaccine because I have no opposition to not taking it. I think that especially people who are allergic to vaccines it’s important for us to take that responsibility.” -Julie Pham: Junior

“Yeah I’d be willing to take it because although it may not be a hundred percent [accurate]…it works.” -Patrick Rau: Junior

The first shots were given on Monday December 14, just a few days after approval (CNBC). The first to receive it will be frontline healthcare workers and those at long term care facilities. While it may seem like only weeks separate Jesuit students from receiving their vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci says that April will be the month when those not in high priority groups will receive their dose.

 

Sources:

New York Times

CNBC

CNN

About the Writer
Photo of Anton Baricevic
Anton Baricevic, Managing Executive Editor

Anton Baricevic is a proud editor for the Jesuit Chronicle. As a member of the class of 2022, Anton decided to take Journalism because his sister Mia,...

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    Pictured above is Jeopardy! star Alex Trebek.

    Pictured above is Jeopardy! star Alex Trebek (By Jim Greenhill on flickr.com)(License). No changes were made.

    Alex Trebek, known by many as the host of “Jeopardy!”, passed away on November 8 at age 80 after a battle with stage four pancreatic cancer (Fox News/cnn).

    In a video on the “Jeopardy!” YouTube channel, the executive producer of the show, Mike Richards, gave a short eulogy about Trebek.

    “He loved this show, and everything it stood for,” Richards said. “He will forever be an inspiration for his constant desire to learn, his kindness, and for his love of his family” (Jeopardy!).

    However, Trebek’s wholesome demeanor not only showed towards those close to him. Zorka Baricevic, a grandmother of multiple Jesuit students and long-time viewer of the show, shared her view of Trebek being a kind man.

    “I just thought he was a nice man,” Baricevic said. “He always kept himself proper and very professional, and I liked his style. That was one of my favorite shows early in the evening.”

    In addition, junior Hannah Nguyen also commented on his cordial nature.

    “He had a very calm composure, and I feel like he gave off a warm environment,” Nguyen said. “He made the contestants feel calm, and he seemed like one of those people who never got too excited and never got too angry. He always made it a positive environment.”

    Both also said they would have loved to have met him before he passed away.

    Trekek’s dedication to “Jeopardy!” not only shows through his hosting of it for over 37 seasons, or over 8200 episodes, but his effort to improve the show (cnn). Trebek was known to look over each and every clue to make sure it sounded right, and if it didn’t he would rewrite it himself (cnn).

    Not only was Trebek committed to educating people while entertaining them, but he was humble about it. When asked by The Hollywood Reporter about his accomplishment of passing Bob Barker in hosting the most game show episodes, he replied modestly (cnn).

    “I’m just enjoying what I’m doing, I’m happy to have a job,” Trebek replied. “I like the show, I like the contestants and it pays well” (cnn).

    Trebek’s impact went beyond the show through charitable efforts, which included visiting troops overseas and speaking on behalf of various charities (cnn). But at the end of the day, his kindness and humility, coupled with his commitment to the show, are what define the man we know as Alex Trebek.

    Rest in peace Alex Trebek.

     

     

     

    About the Writer
    Photo of Anton Baricevic
    Anton Baricevic, Managing Executive Editor

    Anton Baricevic is a proud editor for the Jesuit Chronicle. As a member of the class of 2022, Anton decided to take Journalism because his sister Mia,...

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    With the crazy year of 2020 coming to a close, it’s only fitting that the presidential election between Vice President Biden and President Trump is shaping up to be one for the ages.

    As election day nears, Americans can only wonder: Is this the most important election in history?

    Jesuit history teacher Paul Klausenburger thinks although this is an important election, there have been ones far more pivotal.

    “I think that to say that this is the most important election in American history is hyperbolic,” Klausenburger said. “I think that you can point to others that had greater significance than this. You can certainly point to 1860 if you want to find an election that…had more on the line.”

    In addition to the 1860 election, Klausenburger pointed to various other elections as well that carried more importance.

    “You can look at the election of 1932 when you had twenty five percent plus of the work force unemployed,” Klausenburger said. “You can look at the election of 1940, when we were on the verge of entering the second world war. You can go back to 1800 and talk about the big question people had then [which] was would there be a peaceful transfer of power between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.”

    Although Klausenburger believes it’s not the most important election, it could be a healthy democratic election due to more people voting this year than ever.

    “I don’t know exactly what will happen on election day but certainly the projections are that it’s going to be a high voter turnout which I think is very good for our democracy,” Klausenburger stated.

    On November 3rd, the candidates each have one more opportunity to overcome their biggest hurdles. But with two very different candidates, they both have different obstacles. So what exactly is the biggest hurdle each candidate has to cover in order to reach the White House?

    Junior Alexandra Reynaud believes that the biggest obstacle for the former Vice President is to energize people to go out and vote for him.

    “I think for Biden it’s energizing people and     making people who are maybe disenfranchised by a political state…and mobilizing those people,” Reynaud said. “Or I guess drawing support from people who are less moderate.”

    Junior Ethan McBride believes that the President needs to do more and talk less.

    “He says what he does but sometimes what he says he’s doing he isn’t doing,” McBride said. “He’s gotta do more right now in terms of getting relief and just projecting a more calm but more confident manner about the COVID recovery.”

    As for their views on what the opposing candidate needs to do, Reynaud says Trump “is very polarizing, and that’s his biggest issue he needs to overcome,” while McBride says Biden “[is not] campaigning nearly as much as he should.”

    Klausenburger stated that the absence of a major 3rd party ticket this year could affect the outcome of the election.

    “One thing that’s radically different from sixteen is we don’t really have any viable 3rd party candidates,” Klausenburger said. “Jill Stein, for example, likely took votes from Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump.”

    Although election day is on Tuesday, Klausenburger believes that America won’t find out who their next president is on that day.

    “It’s very likely we will not know the results of the election on election day,” Klausenburger stated. “I would be surprised actually if we knew the results. It does really come down to Pennsylvania…and unfortunately they can’t start processing mail in votes in Pennsylvania until election night.”

     

    About the Writer
    Photo of Anton Baricevic
    Anton Baricevic, Managing Executive Editor

    Anton Baricevic is a proud editor for the Jesuit Chronicle. As a member of the class of 2022, Anton decided to take Journalism because his sister Mia,...

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      As Oregon Battles Coronavirus, Kate Brown Says No School Until Infection Rates Drop

      Pictured above is Oregon Governor Kate Brown (flickr.com), who ultimately decides whether or not Oregon High Schools can return to in-person learning. (Oregon Department of Transportation)

      Last month, Oregon Governor Kate Brown stated that unless infection rates drop, students won’t be seeing the classroom anytime soon(Willamette Week).

      The news came at a press conference when Brown announced that, at Oregon’s current rate of infection, it would take over 200 days to get back to school, although more recent data shows that daily case rates have risen more than 30% since September 11 (Willamette Week/OregonLive).

      The Governor’s requirements for returning to in-person learning are a less than five percent positive test rate statewide and an infection rate of fewer than 10 per 100,000 Oregonians in each county over the course of a week (Oregon.gov). Jesuit principal Paul Hogan weighed in on this issue.

      “I trust that Governor Brown is making the best decisions she can with the information that she’s getting,” Hogan said. “The 10/100,000 is a very strict measure compared to other states. At the same time, we’ve had families in our community that have experienced COVID and even one is too many.”

      Principal Hogan also said that he believes the campus is safe enough to bring back small groups of students for in-person instruction.

      “I do think we can begin to bring groups of students back safely, as other states have done,” Hogan said.

      Junior Rishabh Sharma stated that Governor Brown’s shutdowns and mask mandates have prevented a lot of Oregonians from contracting the virus.

      “From what I’ve seen and heard on the news, I think she’s done a pretty good job of trying to handle COVID,” Sharma said. “She closed everything down, and after a little bit she allowed some stuff to reopen but still restricted other stuff, and she has been strict requiring masks in public places.”

      Although Sharma supports Brown’s efforts, not everyone in the Jesuit community thinks the same. Junior Matteo Campbell says her handling of the virus has not been satisfactory.

      “Some of the stuff she’s done has not been extremely positive in my opinion,” Campbell said. “Closing schools way back was a very poor decision.”

      As a result of Sharma and Campbell’s different takes on the Governor’s handling of the virus, their views of when to return to campus vary widely as well. Campbell believes that we should return to school as soon as possible.

      “If people are so concerned with masks, why can’t we just go to school with masks on?” Campbell said. “People who want to go back to school on the hybrid schedule can go…and the people who don’t want to go back to school…can stay home and watch [Zoom].”

      Sharma, on the other hand, believes that vaccination is when schools should open.

      “I don’t think we can have full school until there’s a vaccine,” Sharma said. “In Oregon… [in-person] school should not be a possibility right now.”

      But when might a return to campus happen? Principal Hogan gave us much needed hope, saying that hybrid school could come next semester.

      “I think it’s going to take us through the fall to see if rates stabilize while people start to go inside,” Hogan said. “I’m hesitant to speculate, but hopefully we can enter a hybrid phase before the end of the semester.”

      About the Writer
      Photo of Anton Baricevic
      Anton Baricevic, Managing Executive Editor

      Anton Baricevic is a proud editor for the Jesuit Chronicle. As a member of the class of 2022, Anton decided to take Journalism because his sister Mia,...

      Writing. Photography. Video. The home of Jesuit High School student journalism.