I Stand With Those Walking Out


Last week students and teachers all over the United States participated in a walkout that was focused on staying in school despite a raging pandemic and feelings of being unsafe and frustration that comes with school continuing to be in person and the lack of seriousness that schools have to COVID safety protocol. Walkouts happened throughout but not limited to New York City, Oakland, Boston, and Portland. Some students are asking simply for better contact tracing and better mask enforcement and some feel uncomfortable in crowded lunch rooms. Asking for temporary closures is a common demand. There are varying levels of precautions in school settings to mitigate the spread of COVID but how well do students follow them?

I stand with the students and teachers walking out, and I am concerned with them. 

I think that the Lake Region administration has handled the situation pretty well. I also think that the systems are overwhelmed, systems of contact tracing, and case reporting. These systems globally, nationally, and locally are overwhelmed and that creates a state of unclearness. My concerns come from the most likely low reporting of cases, and the concern of how long can the school contain and control the virus and to what point do we shut down. Current school closures in the Orleans Supervisory Union including but are not limited to, Irasburg School and Albany School have been because of understaffing. At Lake Region staffing has been a problem but not a huge problem as substitute teachers and other teachers fill in other teachers’ time who are able to circulate the building filling in any teacher absences that may occur. 

Going remote is something that is very complicated with many layers. Although in Vermont the school are not able to close until a certain point, at that point is the virus under control? 

The Vermont Health Department is also no longer collecting data on COVID in Vermont schools. At Lake Region now there is a google sheet with a list of classrooms who had a positive case and the school continues contact tracing, as the guidance continues to change. Although going remote in the future might make sense as cases continue to rise in the school and in our community. 

In Orleans cases continue to increase. Specifically to Lake Region since the holiday break, positive cases have been rampant. And many factors create the strong possibility of low reporting of cases. You would think that the spike in cases would increase mask wearing in stores, and would make students wear masks properly. Yet I continue to see people in our community taking a more causal approach to the pandemic. We are 2 years into a pandemic that has taken many people’s lives and continues to impact communities. It needs to be taken more seriously. I think that when a problem is abstract like the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes if it is not directly impacting you it may be harder to take it seriously or see the damage and harm that it can bring. This definitely was happening in the beginning of the pandemic in Orleans when it wasn’t really here and not that big of a concern. As 2020 fall came COVID started to rise in Orleans and it continues to do so this year. People are dying, and are in the ICU currently as of 1/23/2022 just in the state of Vermont 22 people are in the ICU and 514 people have died just in our state. The pandemic has turned into a political issue and people treat it like a political issue. It is not a political issue, it is a world health issue. 

The virus is real. It blows my mind that some people after two full years continue to think that the virus is fake for control or whatever other things people think. The government did not create the virus to gain control and put microchips in people! It is most definitely real and the spread of COVID can be prevented. We know how to contain and decrease the spread of COVID; wearing masks, limiting indoor gatherings, staying at home when sick, and frequent COVID tests. This needs to continue happening even though it has been two years since it started and continues to spread, we need to take it more seriously.

I stand with those walking out, I thank teachers and administrators continuing to try and keep school a safe environment, and I encourage the state and supervisory union to listen to students and to listen to teachers.