High school can be a tough time for everyone. Your body is changing. You're adapting to new social situations. You're jam-packed in a hallway during a pandemic, and you might get suspended for taking a photo of that hallway. Such was the case for Hannah Watters and another unnamed student who posted these photos to social media, which quickly went viral:
Watters and the other student were suspended for posting those photos (the suspensions have since been lifted after public outcry), but when might notice two things when looking at the images that are just as troubling. 1) These students are definitely not standing six-feet apart from each other. 2) A lot of these students are not wearing masks. It feels like a recipe for the widespread dissemination of a deadly disease, but in a letter to parents and members of the community, superintendent Brian Otott assures us that it's fine. Close contact is defined by the CDC as having spent more than 15 minutes with a person, you see, regardless if Jimmy from geometry class has been rubbing his COVID-booger balls underneath the desk.
Otott does admit that "the photo does not look good," but what is he supposed to do? "Wearing a mask is a personal choice and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them," he says. It's a fair point. I mean, it's not like schools have ever been known to suspend students for violating some sort of dress code, and they definitely haven't been known to infringe on personal liberties in the name of learning, say by suspending students for using their cellphones in the hallways.
Oh, but wait a minute. That is what happened, though. Hmm. It feels like, if we're going around suspending people, then this could all be solved by just sending students home that refuse to wear masks in hallways and classrooms. Here's a tally from Hannah Watters who chronicled just how many of her classmates were forgoing masks.
I hope at least one of those "blocks" was some sort of science class, so maybe, in a few more lessons, the school won't be a life-sized petri dish for COVID. Or, maybe, they'll still take their cues from Otott and never learn.
I'll tell you one thing, though. If you suspended every student who didn't wear a mask, you'd have a lot more space in the hallways.
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Top Image: Hannah Watters