New Quarantine Guidelines: Staff Editorial

Sending students to school during a global pandemic is already unsafe in its own regard, so lowering restrictions without a correlating decrease in local COVID-19 cases is preposterous. Following alterations to the quarantine guidelines set in place by the St. Charles County Health Department, students who are exposed to positive testing classmates will not be sent home, by the district, to quarantine as long as both students wore masks. Howell should return to the previous guidelines as these new guidelines place the students and staff in harm’s way. The Howell community must voice their concerns for the sake of public health and safety and do what’s right.

Currently, 1,626 students and faculty members from the district have been exposed to the virus. Out of that number, 1,135 of those exposures were FHSD-related exposures. That’s nearly 70%. Numbers that high do not signal in any way that COVID guidelines should be eased. These are more than numbers. They are lives.

Twenty districts from Northwest Missouri pooled data in an attempt to prove contact tracing was unnecessary, but instead they only showcased it’s dire necessity: 1,430 students from those districts were quarantined and only 59 tested positive for the virus. Statistically, 4.1% is not that much, but the fact that there were 59 positive cases caught and quarantined is huge. These are statistics but they are also children and young adult lives deserving of safety.

Masks are not foolproof in stopping the spread of the virus. While they do improve the likelihood of virus avoidance, masks should not be the sole safeguard in place to prevent further outbreaks. 

Superintendent Nathan Hoven stated in the email sent out to parents that the majority of positive cases stem from outside contact, but that is contradictory to the aforementioned statistics from the district reports. A few positive cases is not just a few positive cases, it’s a few lives endangered and that is not something the district should take lightly. Plus, students may not show symptoms, and they then give it to other students who do not show symptoms, who then pass it to those who do. 

These changes present a wholly new second semester unlike the semester students had in mind when choosing between virtual or in-person classes. Though Hoven stated that students could switch their learning option for the coming semester, he only provided nine days for this change to be submitted. The safety of family members and the lives of the Howell community is what’s at stake, and a week is far too short for a parent to decide where they feel comfortable placing their child’s fate.

This change is not only careless but also creates an unsafe learning environment; and that is the exact opposite of what Howell should strive to be. Students and teachers must send letters to the district requesting them to change back.