Should Teal and Silver be Attending School Together?

Jessie Blattner, Staff Writer

At the start of the second semester, the administration at Aliso Niguel decided to merge the teal and silver groups so that all hybrid students attend on the same days; that being Tuesdays and Wednesdays, in person. This decision was made after it was determined that only around 30% of students would be returning in person, making the number of students combined a low enough capacity to have on campus all at once.

  We are returning not long after Orange County, CA has been moved into the purple tier which indicates widespread covid transmission and a more than 8 percent positivity rate. According to Orange County Healthcare Agency, there were 3,995 positive cases of COVID-19 reported on Jan. 19 alone, and there have been 214,808 cumulative positive cases reported to date.

  Southern California is also struggling with ICU capacity. According to the California COVID-19 website, there is currently 0 percent ICU capacity in our region, which is likely increasing the number of deaths occurring during this time.

  Cases have been surging since Thanksgiving and have only gotten worse over the holidays as many people still gathered, some even going out of state for family celebrations. This disregard for the guidelines has left many sick and increase the struggle in hospitals.

  Schools have been allowed to remain open despite Orange County being moved into the purple tier, and with more students being allowed on campus at once, it raises some concerns. But the state government has no control over whether or not schools reopen in person if they have received waivers and are not breaking guidelines.

  This semester, the campus is much more crowded. Hallways have much more people going in and out, and some students ignore the arrows meant to control the flow of students in and out. This opens up more opportunities for students to have physical contact, breaking the six-feet apart rule.

  The administration has also not been able to successfully enforce staggered release this semester, which contributes to some of the overcrowding seen in hallways after classes. Some teachers have stuck with it, while others let kids out at the normal end-of-class time.

  There is also much less seating at the lunch tables. Many students still gather in groups and eat close together, and people tend to sit on spots that do not have the designated “sit-here” marking. While this may not concern students who are with their closest friends, it is creating more opportunities for the spread of coronavirus.

 The supervisors and teachers do their best to enforce the rules laid out to protect students, but especially with the increased volume of kids on campus, it’s a very difficult task. Whether there aren’t enough of them to manage all the children or kids simply aren’t listening, the current set up is not as organized as it could be.

  However, one nice thing about the higher number of students is there being fuller classrooms. This gives teachers and students more opportunities to engage in in-class learning activities with more than two or three students in a room. Many kids are also happy to see all of their friends in hybrid rather than being disappointed over being separated from their peers in the first semester schedule.

  With all of these changes, the question of whether or not we should have this many students on campus or have any attending at all remains unanswered. I believe that it would be more beneficial to the safety of students to return to a four-day hybrid schedule that would allow for the school to better enforce the rules they have laid out to protect them.