A 2022 COVID update

AJ McCann

This year we are back at school 100% of the time but masked. As we’ve moved into 2022, rising cases of Omicron had spiked within our community in January. Many students and faculty/staff have been affected by the variant of COVID.

We interviewed students and faculty/staff who had been affected by Omicron first hand.

Senior Taraneh Moeini (fully vaccinated) tested positive for Omicron. “I did have symptoms. I started out with a mild fever, and I was feverish for two days. After that it was just mild congestion for maybe three more days.” To keep busy she spent her time watching YouTube, listened to podcasts, cleaned her room, and spent time with her family who also tested positive for COVID.

Senior MaryRose Johnson also tested positive for COVID. She shared her emotional experience. “At first I was embarrassed I got COVID because I’m fully vaccinated and have been really careful but then I realized that everyone was getting it and didn’t feel embarrassed. It was lonely. I had to be alone in my room for ten days and felt frustrated at times that I had nothing to do. I was very bored.”

Religion teacher Joshua Barnes aided his students who have been out of school. He shared how a teacher handles a student who misses school for COVID. “Currently, when a student is out due to exposure to COVID, we have been told to make contact with them, and be sure that Blackbaud or Moodle is up to date so they can follow along. Because we have this tool, it seems reasonable to me to expect students to mostly keep up with the class. Of course, if someone is really sick, then usually they will let me know, and we work out a separate plan for how to get them back on track.”

He adds, “I think it is important for us to remember we are all tired and frustrated. We all want this to go away and to get back to “normal.” It is important that we do our best to take care of each other, both by doing everything we can to stay healthy and by doing our best to be understanding of one another. Everyone is trying their best to handle this ever-changing situation in the best way they can, so we have to presume good intentions, as St. Ignatius taught us.”

Principal Cindy Davis remarked, “The rule from the health department is if you have 20% of your population out and you can kind of attribute it to a singular COVID. We were never anywhere near 20%. I also believe that we know the cause and we know how to manage it. Our response was to follow the CDC Health department guidelines or length of time for quarantine and isolation to continue to require masks.”

The school is taking extra cleaning precautions to wipe surfaces and to spray the air. Davis said, “We are probably taking more precaution with some of the cleaning procedures of inhalation. And that’s okay that you don’t see but you need to know that it’s happening. We have checked all of the buildings, all the classrooms for proper ventilation. We have clean supplies, even though there’s evidence now that suggests that’s not really how it spread. It’s airborne. They use a chemical and it’s a spray that they would use on large surfaces. So if the theater, for example, was being used for an event after the event ended, they would go in and they would spray all, all of the chairs and that space. They do that in the campus center as well, just because it’s such a large space.There’s some wipes that people can use if they want to additionally clean their space.

“We have strived to balance the response to COVID with what it is that we’re here to do, which is to educate. And so our sense of readiness for the pandemic was pretty good. “Learning is going to happen. We have great teachers, we have phenomenal students and learning is going to happen.”

COVID continues to challenge schools all over the world but within our community our mission is to be able to positively respond so that the learning environment does not lose traction and that Bellarmine students continue to be successful. The changes we make as a school community are the new permanent normal allowing us to stay under 20% of people affected by COVID and allow Bellarmine to keep school in session.