News: QHS returns to 5 day live instruction


Rocco Pellegrino, Staff Writer

On November 18th, Quakertown High School students returned to the typical 5 day live instruction weekly schedule. 

While it is great to see the progress being made to bounce back during the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have their own concerns.

A 10th grade student at Quakertown High School, Jack James, describes his worries as, “The chances of getting the virus increases if everyone isn’t kept 6 feet apart, and if more people are allowed into the school at once, there’s a higher chance (COVID-19) could be spread if obtained outside of school by a student.”

The cause for concern can certainly be validated as COVID-19 cases throughout the US have soared recently. 43 states reported at least 10% more cases compared to the previous week, and the average daily number of new cases increased by 34% while testing only bumped up 7%. With Thanksgiving approaching, the possibility of a student obtaining the virus outside of school certainly arises.

From a local perspective, Bucks County reported 12 new deaths from the 2 week span of October 30th-November 13th. The county also announced that they had reached a record number of reported cases, 1,676, through the week of November 8th-14th.

“I’m not necessarily worried about getting (COVID-19) and experiencing the symptoms,” James said. “It’s more passing the virus to an older family member.”

For a lot of students, this seems to be the general consensus. And for the most part, that is the most reasonable concern.

Of the 12 deaths reported from October 30th-November 13th in Bucks Country, all but two – a 34-year-old man and a 74-year-old man – were over the age of 80, including three in their 90s.

As many people know, the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are the most vulnerable to the disease. Keeping a distance or wearing a mask when around people who fit the description can go a long way in keeping them safe from the virus.

The Bucks County Health Department Director, Dr. David Damsker, described the situation as, “The numbers are much higher, and almost every case is from unmasked exposures to family, friends, and co-workers.” Damsker said. “We need to tighten up mask usage in all situations. We’ve seen that they work, and work very well.”

According to the CDC, wearing a mask can decrease the rate of transmission by over 70%. Requiring students to wear masks when returning to school was definitely the correct decision.

An area of skepticism for some students when returning to school is the hallways. Many of them have been extremely crowded and often at a standstill for over 10-15 seconds.

While the 10-15 seconds would be a standard waiting period in any other year, they can be extremely dangerous during the times we are currently in. The reason for this is that there is a positive correlation between the chances of infection, and the time spent with someone who has the virus. If a person is unaware that they contracted the virus at the time, or if they are asymptomatic, this could cause a potential major issue.

“I often see people pulling down their masks at times,” Blake Koehler, a 15-year-old student at Quakertown High school observed. “(The hallways) are concerning because everyone is so close together.”

The majority of students at the high school have done a tremendous job following protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 so far, but it can only take one mistake to cause an outbreak.

An example can be made of this from a school in our own district. Pfaff Elementary School was shut down from Wednesday November 18th to Monday November 23rd, and Montgomery County school’s are scheduled to also go virtual starting on November 23rd, to December 6th.

The decision made by Montgomery County Board of Health Chairman, Michael Laign, to shut down Montgomery County schools stems from the concern of spreading the virus when returning from Thanksgiving break. His concern can be validated, as cases in the past have spiked nationwide after holidays.

As we hit later November, two of the biggest travel periods of the year are fast approaching. It certainly begs the question: Should Quakertown school’s be moved to full-virtual to ensure the health and safety of staff and students, or should 5-day-live instruction continue throughout the holiday season?