Students reflect on quarantines caused by COVID-19

After returning from winter break, COVID-19 cases had a massive spike due to the Omicron variant. Students and teachers were absent and forced to quarantine due to exposure and positive tests. With the decline in present staff and students, major amounts of stress were put on faculty, especially the school’s nurses. 

Teachers are rushed to adapt lesson plans as large portions of their classes were absent. Administrators had to find coverage for teachers who tested positive, as well as school nurses who, on top of their regular duties, had to be in charge of educating and following the ever-changing guidelines.

LQHS’ school nurse, Imelda Arias-Halum, was already in charge of multiple duties regarding the health and safety of students, so the increase of tasks hasn’t been an easy thing to take on. One of the main duties of the school nurse is to create reports and attend meetings regarding specific students and their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

“The increase in COVID-19 cases has been challenging in prioritizing job duties and meeting IEP deadlines,” said Arias-Halum.

Arias-Halum also mentioned that school nurses across the board in the district have seen a rise of mental health issues in students due to the pandemic. Quarantining and secluding oneself from regular life is not an ideal situation. 

Imelda Arias-Halum is LQHS’ school nurse.
Photo courtesy of Delma Perez, PDHS’ school nurse.

“This experience was difficult to me because I was sort of sent into a depressive episode; I couldn’t leave my room or really go outside. I was not allowed back to school for 10 days and had to be quarantined for eight days. I still felt like it was the worst week of my life,” a student said, who asked for anonymity because they didn’t want anyone to know they went through a depressive episode. (The student has reached out to loved ones to receive support.) 

If students are struggling with mental health and are unsure of what to do, feel free to visit the mental health therapist, Elena Labastida, on campus. Labastida can be found in room 415. Another option is to fill out a request for assistance form, which can be found on the school’s website.          

Faith Torres ‘22 also had to quarantine and self isolate. 

She said that coming back to school was really overwhelming due to the amount of work she fell behind on. Torres said that over her two-week quarantine, she didn’t have the opportunity to stay up-to-date with assignments as she had to help out and watch her younger siblings (who were also quarantined).

“I think the school is doing alright with the system, but they should take into consideration students who can’t catch up as fast as others,” Torres said.

Taking the correct precautions to protect yourself and your family is the best way to avoid contracting COVID-19. There are a few simple things you can do that could make all the difference. Arias-Halum offered a few suggestions to keep yourself and family safe.

“I advise students to wear a mask, stay home if you are feeling ill, and properly wash your hands,” she said. “If possible, maintain a six-foot distance from others, and limit close/unmasked exposures to under 15 minutes while eating around others, including close family members. Get the COVID-19 vaccine if appropriate.”

The district has an attachment of COVID-19 Guidelines on its website. This is where policies and procedures are all laid out for easy access.