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

Pro-Con Opinions: Should we go back to school?

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Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

Gwynne Olson and Anton Baricevic offer opposing opinions about whether or not Jesuit should return to school?

Student-led Organization Students Tutor Students Grows Drastically

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Student-led and founded organization Students Tutor Students (STS) has drastically grown throughout the quarantine, gaining recognition from the greater public such as KGW News.

Students Tutor Students began  as a small group of students aimed to match struggling students with tutors, and now the organization has expanded large enough to develop  a website, prevalent social media presence, summer camp, and soon an app. 

“When we began we were a small organization and all we wanted to focus on was getting kids the tutors they needed so they could succeed in online school,” said senior Ziggy Berkoff, Public Relations Director of STS. “Since then, we’ve…expanded [STS] to more about affecting education in Oregon as a whole and less about getting tutors to people, [although] that’s still our main point. We’ve grown so much that we have over 100 tutors.” 

The summer program, titled the Kickstart Summer Program, was developed during  this past summer, with a goal to have  multiple student-teachers from different schools participate in creating a variety of classes, with subjects ranging from art to math

“We were able to work with over 110 students on bolstering their summer education,” senior Devansh Khunteta said. “In addition, we were able to create a sense of community through movie nights and these fun activities we continually held [during the summer program].”

Khunteta, the Chief Technology Officer on the executive board for STS, is also currently working on developing an app in order to make education as accessible as possible during this time of social distancing.

“I hope to release the app with the rest of my team sometime later in October, and that’s one initiative that we’ve been focusing on quite a lot,” Khunteta said. “The impetus and motivation behind why we want to do it was because we recognize that students oftentimes use their mobile devices a lot more for work. For example, [we]  use our iPads a lot, so it’d be really awesome to have that mobile application where you can automatically be matched with a tutor who can help you out, as well as chat with them all throughout this one interface.”

In addition to the app, STS’s social media presence brought them to KGW’s attention. Through their Instagram profile and email, STS has been talking to KGW, but decided to pause the conversation as KGW was busy covering the election. However, the upcoming feature on STS developed when a photographer from KGW reached out to the organization.

“We had a lot of posts concerning Kickstart and how our summer program went, and apparently they found it pretty intriguing, so they had a photographer reach out to us on Instagram,” Khunteta said. “He was sort of just like, ‘Hey we saw what you guys are doing and we want to talk more about Kickstart and your future initiatives. Would you mind setting up this interview and discussing?’”

In order to prepare for the interview, the executive board met over Zoom and reviewed key points they wished to make during the interview so  viewers could better  understand their mission and organizational goals. The feature on STS is predicted to air next week, and focuses on STS’s future goals as well as current progress.

“I think that STS is an ambitious organization and we are going to try our hardest to impact education in Oregon for the better before we all graduate,” Berkoff said.

About the Writer
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Scout Jacobs, Staff Writer







Scout Jacobs is a managing editor for the Jesuit Chronicles at Jesuit High School. As a senior in high school, this is her third year doing...

COVID-19 changes the course for college admission

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College News

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COVID-19 changes the course for college admission 


Dozens of colleges and universities are altering their admission process amidst the coronavirus.

Major changes include the onset of test optional admission, adjustments in confirmation deadlines, enhancement of virtual access to campus tours, information presentations, and video/text chat with admission representatives.

These changes were made after  the government’s stay-at-home policy due to  COVID-19.

These new alterations to college admission will most likely affect upperclassmen. For seniors, it will affect their final decision on where to attend college.

“I anticipate the change in confirmation deadlines (June 1 rather than May 1 for example) are likely to only impact the class of ’20,” college counselor Mr. Johnson said. “Broadly, campus visits are cancelled, and some college orientationevents have gone virtual.  I believe that COVID-19 may prompt students and families to rethink their final college decision, perhaps desiring to be closer to home, anticipating changes in what college will look like in fall 2020.”

Senior Hannah Stream is going to Colorado University at Boulder. She was one of the few lucky people to already visit her college and make a decision.

“I was lucky I went early enough that I still got my in-person visit, but most schools have been sending constant emails that they can only do virtual campus tours and from what I’ve heard, it’s just not the same,” Stream said. “This is when people were going to go on college visits to have that reassurance that they were making the right choice for the next four years, and not being able to walk around and talk to people face to face makes it that more difficult to make an already major decision.”

As seniors figure out what college and finalize their decisions, juniors deal with early admission issues due to the coronavirus.

“[Juniors are dealing with] test optional planning, no campus visits, reduction in summer experience (work, service, internship, etc.) opportunities,” Mr. Johnson said. “The most impactful is the onset of test optional admission.”

Going test optional due to COVID-19 has been notable as the biggest change in college admission. Many well-known colleges have made the change, including but not limited to: University of Oregon, Oregon State University, All UC schools, Portland State University, TCU, Tulane, and many more.

“The onset of test optional could be more long lasting,” Mr. Johnson said. “Some colleges are just going test optional for one year and then reevaluating, others are going test optional for three years and then reevaluating, and others are going test optional after significant deliberation, well before the COVID-19 outbreak.  While the motivation to go test optional varies – lack of testing opportunities primarily – many colleges are going test optional for the long term because they believe that standardized testing is not the best predictor of success in college. There are also many equity issues surrounding standardized testing such as test prep, socioeconomic factors, etc.”

With many colleges already going test optional and predictably more on the way, a new attitude on going test optional begs the question: Is it even worth it to take the SAT/ ACT?

“Due to the fact that not all colleges will be going test optional, and that the test optional status may be temporary in some cases, I would generally suggest that students should take the SAT and/or ACT in the case that it is required by their prospective colleges,” Mr. Johnson said. “It is a good idea for students to talk with their college advisor regarding test selection, and test optional decisions.”

Many juniors feel the pressure of having to study and take the SAT/ACT as dates get rescheduled and are for colleges becoming test optional.

“I feel like I am at a disadvantage taking the SAT/ACT right now because if I take it in the summer that means that I would have not been in school for three months,” junior Hunter Redding said. “There is already so much going on and I’m also having to navigate online school, so my focus for the SAT/ACT is not as strong as it was.”

As upperclassmen experience different struggles with college due to the coronavirus. Mr. Johnson provides advice for college and what people can still do at home.

“Utilize the many virtual tour and presentation options that have been developed by college admission offices,” Mr. Johnson said. “Juniors and seniors are encouraged to review the Canvas college planning courses – which include a Module titled “College Planning Info in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). There is also a page focusing on “How to “Visit” a College During Campus Closure.”  The Visit page includes some great suggestions on how to learn more about a college…at a distance.”

About the Writer
Photo of Annie Landgraf
Annie Landgraf, Alumni 2019-2020






Annie Landgraf is a managing editor for journalism. She was born in Lake Oswego, Oregon and went to Lake Oswego schools her whole life before...

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