Student quarantines difficult to navigate for students and staff

Hailey Lanari, Staff Writer

Returning to school full time after the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic has come with challenges, one of which is dealing with student quarantines. 

“It’s been tough for everyone having large numbers of students. It’s been a transition period I thought would be quicker,” said Principal Mr. Kaste.

One of the issues that resulted from having all students in the building is quarantines that result from close contact with students or staff infected with COVID-19. Both teachers and students are finding quarantines to be challenging to manage.

This year the district has had 90 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of November 3 with 168 students quarantined for contact tracing at the high school. Anyone in close contact with an infected individual is quarantined for roughly two weeks after the start of the individual’s symptoms. However, vaccinated students do not necessarily have to quarantine or if a proper distance and mask usage was maintained. But what happens to the quarantined students?

According to emails from the school district, being absent from quarantine is an excused absence. However without any Google Meets or other structured online learning methods, it is effectively the same as a normal absence, according to the experience of some students. 

Students are expected to receive assignments from their teachers on Google Classroom or through email with no in-class instruction. Mr. Kaste explained that to help with this, students are assigned at-home instructors they can meet with and contact. 

Each student is assigned to an instructor who is granted access to Google Classroom. These instructors are building teachers and they are compensated for their time.  

“It’s hard not having full online [instruction] because when you’re out for a week or more, you can really get behind. Not all of the work gets put in Google Classroom, so you always have to text someone and ask them what has been going on,” said Leila Margillo, a sophomore at Monroe-Woodbury. Some students know that falling even just a day or two behind can be overwhelming.

“It feels like everyday is the same (in quarantine) and I cannot possibly learn everything I need to know when I’m not there,” said Jolie Anastos-Johnson, another quarantined sophomore. 

With Google Classroom and optional at-home instruction from a tutor, students have the resources to make it through their quarantine. But unfortunately there is a combination of issues with this. In some cases, students are simply not taking advantage of their resources, and in others it falls onto teachers to make the necessary adjustments. 

“I always tried to communicate with them and check in, without any face-to-face instruction I just needed to make sure they weren’t missing anything. Most of my students were assigned an at- home instructor and did very well with that,” said history teacher, Ms. Bouquot.

“I had to change my Google Classroom to how it was last year online, keeping all the notes and everything very detailed. Without that I would be concerned my students would fall behind” said math teacher Ms. Gonsalves, “Different classes have different workloads and difficulties for students so it’s been hard for teachers and students.”

Despite all of the challenges, students, teachers and administrators have been working in collaboration to overcome obstacles posed by quarantines.

“I think everyone’s doing what they can to support each other,” said Mr. Kaste.