Masks returned to West Friday, Jan. 7 due to high absentee rates with the new strain of COVID-19. This strain, Omicron, is spreading much quicker than other variants, but many medical experts say that Omicron will not be around for as long as other strains.
Omicron is also less severe than other strains of COVID-19, so it is causing less hospitalization and it reduces the risk of hospitalization by forty to seventy-five percent.
Since Omicron is spreading faster, there will be more cases that arise. West is no exception which is why masks are returning for the next two weeks. According to Principal Novacek, our rate of absenteeism was at 9.72%, and the Board of Education deemed that we would return to masks if our rate of absenteeism exceeds 7%. In Novacek’s email, he also said that the Board of Education would implement required masking if the number of cases/isolations exceeds 4%.
Junior Cooper Carley isn’t a fan of the new policy, though, he thinks masks were effective in protecting students from COVID.
“No, [we should not be back in masks] because I hate them,” Carley said. “I mean [masks] probably [protect us], but they are annoying to wear.”
Meanwhile, Junior Quinn Murawski thinks we should be back in masks because cases are rising and that they are effective in protecting students in the West.
“I think we should for now since our cases are rising, but eventually, in a couple months, they should be taken off,” Murawski said. “I think if you wear them right and if you are vaccinated, wearing them is more effective.”
The Center for Disease Control said that the best way to fight Omicron is to be vaccinated, wear a mask, and get tested.
“Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission, and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging,” the CDC says.