RV updates its COVID-19 policies at start of new year

RV’s policies for the new school year and possible repercussions

Mikaela Bennett and Alexandra Hascek

With the new school year finally off the ground, RV has some new procedures and guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety. The school is doing its best efforts to slow the spread of this virus and keep students healthy. However, during extreme heat, some of these rules are put to the side. 

Unlike last year, Rancocas Valley started off the 2021-2022 school year with all students in-person. To promote staying healthy, students are required to wear masks in classes and teachers must keep track of where students sit.  This way if a student contracts COVID, others who were around them during the school day will be alerted to either monitor their symptoms or quarantine. If a student is tested and results come back positive, other peers will be contacted on what to do next. If the peers are either vaccinated, or both the person who contracted COVID and the person in contact were wearing masks, they do not need to do anything besides monitor their symptoms. This is a change from last year where contact tracing happened regardless.

If the other peers in contact with a positive COVID case did not receive the vaccine and were not wearing a mask, they will be required to quarantined for a set amount of days. Students who were quarantined will not be permitted to return to school until they provide a negative test result. However, quarantining forces students to miss many school days. This can lead to missing many lessons, assignments, quizzes and tests. There is no protocol that requires teachers to meet with these quarantined students virtually. 

I feel bad for the people that do have to quarantine and have no option to do school virtually,” said sophomore Mylee Lafferty. “If I had to quarantine, I would want there to still be a virtual option that is only for quarantined students so I could participate in taking tests and doing work at the same pace and time as the other students in the class.”

With RV still working on getting classrooms air-conditioned, when the temperature goes up the inside of the school, it can become very hot and uncomfortable. As a result, when the heat becomes too high students are permitted to take off their masks. Last school year, masks were optional for the majority of the end of the year leading into summer. Fewer procedures were enforced during the time, as cases were low and the summer heat was just around the corner.

 “I think wearing a mask is important in stopping the spread of COVID, but being able to take it off in the heat was helpful,” sophomore Ronit Hizgiaev said. “In early September of the current school year, the temperature inside the building was hot once again, and masks were optional. They were only optional for a select amount of days. 

To me, I liked having the option to take my mask off or leave it on, because it was very hot in the school,” said Lafferty. “The heat seemed less intense when the mask was able to be pulled down, but being able to just put it back up again if needed was nice.” Temperatures later this week could spike the low 80’s, making just uncomfortable enough to consider dropping the masks temporarily again.

As the weather starts to drop, flu and cold season is on its way, which may also bring a higher amount of COVID-19 cases and a higher risk of contracting the disease. Procedures made by RVRHS are aiming to help keep students and staff workers healthy so that in-school learning can continue throughout the year while being both safe and productive.