As Omicron Rages on, Concerns Rise

     Throughout the last two years, the world has struggled with the highly contagious virus, COVID-19. While hopes of going back to “normal” are coming into view, new variants challenge the possibility of returning to “normal life.” 

     Omicron, one of the variants, is spreading more rapidly and has more mutations than other variants of COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Omicron represented 95% of sequenced Covid cases in the U.S. during the week ended New Year’s Day, while the once-dominant delta variant is now only 4.6% of sequenced cases.” Former FDA commissioner, Pfizer board member, and CNBC contributor Scott Gottlieb told CNBC, “There is a lot of infection around the country right now, and, at the end of this, probably 30% to 40% of the U.S. population will have been infected by omicron.” Although these are frightening statistics, booster shots are 75 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infection (U.K. Health Security Agency). There is hope for a healthier future, and Fenwick is trying their best to provide that for students. 

     To help students stay in school, Fenwick proceeded to create more spaces for students to eat lunch and has spread students out while they are eating. The gym has been turned into a study hall to protect and limit contact between students. Fenwick strongly encourages wearing N-95 masks to protect students from risks of exposure. Fenwick has also made sure that spacing everywhere in the building adheres to the CDC guidelines. Although Fenwick has taken all of these steps to keep students in school, the Omicron variant has created many problems and forced people to quarantine. For example, senior Tate Daniels explained, “The Omicron variant affected me by infecting everyone in my family but me and making me quarantine from them for two weeks. This was hard since I wasn’t allowed to go to school even though I was negative.”

     Even though Fenwick and the rest of the world are still struggling to combat the variant, Caroline Sutton, a sophomore, describes this year as much better than last year. “This year is so much better than last year because I have met so many more people and I feel like I am learning more at school.” Sutton also remarked that last year was much more challenging, but this year, she felt much more “connected with the community.” She has high hopes about staying in person because this year is already better than last year. Another sophomore, Lizzie Brunick, also agreed with Sutton, stating, “I got to see my friends this year, which made me so happy. If we continue to be cautious and vigilant with COVID precautions in school, I believe we won’t go back to full-time e-learning.”           

     Senior Tate Daniels said, “Fenwick is doing a decent enough job when it comes to in-person learning. There are certain aspects that I would personally like changed, but given that Fenwick is such a big school with so many responsibilities to attend to, I would say they surely are doing the best they can.” Daniels had a “normal” freshman year without COVID and said, “I’m honestly pretty happy with the way my Fenwick career panned out. The two most important years of my Fenwick career, freshman and senior year, were somewhat normal.” Even though Daniels had to quarantine for a portion of senior year, he remarked, “it still had been really fun so far and I am glad I was able to be in person for my senior year.”

     Even though there have been many challenges, the Fenwick community has tried hard to overcome them. “I think that as a community we powered through that, and I’m proud of all the people I know that can say ‘Been there done that,” said Daniels. Sutton added that while she thinks the community has struggled with sadness and overall unhappiness but this year, it seems to be getting a lot better.  

     Despite the challenges of navigating COVID-19, Fenwick seems to be trying their best to keep its students in school. Students are in school and participating in sports and activities that were unavailable last year. Although the Omicron variant is scary and contagious, if the Fenwick community stays vigilant and protects itself, the hopes of overcoming this challenge are great.