Fear of The Unknown

Students Expresses Concerns As Coronavirus Lingers

Fear+of+The+Unknown

Amariah Nielsen, Reporter

The bell rings and the race begins. A swarm of bodies fill the hallway: cramped and humid. Bodily odors, perfumes and axe body spray smother senior Yuhe Lu as he shuffles to his second class of the day. Sometimes, he can’t move more than an inch at time, the congested hallways limiting students to a slow crawl. An elbow jabs him in the arm, a shoe scraps the back of his sneaker. Finally, he sinks into his seat a minute before the bell.

It’s only his third week of in-person school. When Yuhe Lu first transitioned back after a year of online education, fears of an unknown future followed. 

“First of all, they took away the mask mandate and I was shocked because really, just think about the crowded hallways, the virus could spread so easily,” Lu said. “Secondly, being unsocialized for the past year and a half made me worried about my ability to socialize and communicate as [I went] back to school.” 

More than half of the student body attended school virtually during the 2020-2021 school year, as districts structured their programs around concerns of a pandemic virus. For Yuhe Lu, the virtual learning experience was challenging.  

“Online school [was] really boring because you [were] really just looking at the teacher over [a] screen,” Lu said. “There is no classroom feeling, but more like a meeting. Everyone mutes and [turns] off camera, nobody [feels] like speaking in breakout rooms.” 

Despite all the negativity throughout his junior year, he still found ways to look at the positives.  

“When there is a bad side, there will be a good side. Having online [schooling] gave me more free time,” Lu said. “When at school, there are times the teacher only [talks] for half of the class and then it’s free time, but there isn’t much you can do. And when it comes to online school, if the teacher is done early, the class ends early.”

Lu isn’t the only student that feels uneasy about returning to school in terms of safety. As of Wednesday, Oct. 6 2021, 4,468 Frisco ISD students have signed a petition calling Frisco ISD to “take action and place COVID-19 restrictions.” This includes addings masks to school dress code, encouraging the use of hand sanitizer and educating students on respiratory etiquette; covering coughs and sneezes as well as disposing tissues in proper waste receptacles. 

“We feel like the district has not taken the necessary steps to ensure our safety regarding COVID 19,” senior and co-founder of the petition, Kate Shaw said. “We feel [the district has] not been listening to our concerns, and has not really responded in any way or fashion. So, we feel it’s important we’re here as students and parents to ensure [the district realizes] that we are here and we want our voices to be heard.”

According to the Frisco Independent School District Covid-19 case data, as of Wednesday, Oct. 6 2021, the district has amassed a cumulative number of 2,432 students who have tested positive for COVID within the first month of the 2021-2022 school year with these numbers continuing to rise. The petition hopes that by establishing a mask mandate COVID cases will slow down.  

For Yuhe Lu, climbing numbers are further evidence that stronger action should be taken in order to keep students as safe as possible. 

“I feel that [a mask mandate] is strongly needed because we come to school to learn and socialize, not to spread [viruses] and make each other sick,” Lu said. “No one should end up in the ambulance.”

 

The Districts Effort to Alleviate Covid Fear

As students strive to see change take shape on campus, Frisco ISD has put procedures in place to provide students with a safe learning environment.

“The district will continue to monitor cases and will make the determination to adjust current protocols if they deem necessary,” Assistant Principal Michelle Zurek said. “Students and staff have the option to wear masks and we have sanitizing stations throughout campus. We have worked with students individually based on their needs [and] will continue to do everything that we can to give students the safest possible learning environment given our limitations.”

Among the safety protocols outlined by the district, students and staff with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are asked to quarantine for 10 days while monitoring for health improvement until the individual has received a negative test or when a physician identifies the individual’s symptoms as something other than COVID-19. 

“If any students feel uncomfortable regarding Covid protocols, I would encourage them to come to the office and talk through their concerns with an AP,” Zurek said. “We can work with them on a plan to make them feel as safe and as comfortable as possible, within the limitations on a full campus. We have worked with quite a few students so far this year on specific situations and helping them to navigate those.” 

As schools continue to manage in-person instruction amidst concerns of COVID-19, FISD claims that student and staff safety remains a constant priority.     

“I believe that how the virus spreads depends on people’s actions; their own thoughts, their willingness to wear a mask, get the vaccine, and things like that,” Lu said. “People have their own self awareness; there are only a number of [staff members] compared to students, so the staff cannot control everybody’s actions. People need to be selfless. Wearing a mask is protecting yourself and others.”