HomeMayOpinion: Carmel High COVID safety rules cause more inconvenience than improvement

Opinion: Carmel High COVID safety rules cause more inconvenience than improvement

Published May 25, 2021

By MICHAEL LAKIND

As the Carmel High community was getting ready for spring break, many parents and students were shocked by finding out that on-campus learning would resume that following week. This news came with several safety measures that all have great intentions, but don’t amount to much due to lack of enforcement and selective application.

Every student who’s been in person this quarter remembers the awful weather during that first week back. It was in the low 50s all five days that week with rain some days, and we were all stuck outdoors every break and lunch. Some teachers nobly admitted a handful of students to their rooms during lunch, but were later sternly advised against doing so because it violated proximity restrictions. Meanwhile, if you looked at the amphitheater during lunch these days, very few, if any, students actually cared about being too close to their friends. 

The amphitheater never stopped being a popular lunchtime spot, even with COVID-19 guidelines in place. (photo by Michael Lakind)

The only change to the rules since the middle of April has been that students are permitted to eat in classrooms now, so long as they are six feet away from others while doing so. What’s unchanged is a mask requirement at all times other than eating or drinking, and this hasn’t been intensively carried out to say the least. A lap around campus during a passing period, or even a peek in a classroom window, will reveal plenty of students who wear their masks off the nose or use the “chinstrap” technique, and too few teachers are willing to step in and correct them. 

The new app utilized by CHS administrators to connect to students, StudentSquare, and its mandatory check-ins is another example of obligations with little to no tangible effect. It’s a COVID-19 screening where you’re asked whether you have COVID-19. I understand that a more comprehensive screening first thing every morning would be impractical and too time-consuming, but it just feels like a silly, bureaucratic box to check just for the sake of checking it. 

A lot of the seemingly odd rules, such as students not being able to go to their cars during lunch or parents not being allowed to drop something off during the day, can be attributed to “contact tracing.” It’s a useful concept for campus security in pandemic times, but fairly useless due to how many interactions take place daily and just as annoying as the word “cohort” was while everyone was still online. It gets thrown around as the simple answer to any question regarding restrictions. 

The most frustrating part of the inconsistent nature of these rules is that they apply to some, but not all. High-contact sports like football and basketball get to fully operate with no vaccine or mask requirement and compete with schools in other regions. It stretches back to March 2020 when CHS boys’ basketball went to play a game in San Francisco — a hotspot for COVID-19 cases back then — but at the same time, CHS drama’s “Bye Bye Birdie” was forced to shut down on the day of the final dress rehearsal. 

The night before CHS drama’s “Little Women” opened at the Forest Theater nearly two weeks ago, my castmates and I were told that we had to re-block the entire show because we were too close to one another. I had to wear a mask onstage in one scene because I wouldn’t have my second vaccination for another five days. We were all livid that the rules changed on a dime at the last minute for us, and even more so that sports were being given different treatment by the administration. 

It’s too late in the year to change anything major, and — knock on wood — CHS won’t have to worry about pandemic safety by the time the 2021-22 school year begins. 

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