Rising Omicron cases lead to increased school absences


The line outside Student Services when notified of close contact. Photo Credit: Samantha Romero

Iris Espana and Samantha Romero, Editorial Board

As cold weather and flu season strike the nation, the Omicron strain has infected many. Schools across the nation including California colleges have taken action and switched to virtual education to prevent the spread of the virus on campus. The question is: what is West Covina High School doing to prevent the spread?

Coming back from winter break, many students are absent and more are getting notices of close contact within the first week back on campus. Students aren’t the only ones affected, multiple teachers have also been absent and replaced with substitutes. The on-campus COVID testing site has seen a drastic increase in the amount of people getting tested. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines close contact as being “exposed to an individual who tests positive whom you had contact with longer than 15 minutes within 6 feet.” 

Before classes resumed Jan. 3, a reported seven students have tested positive and have not returned to school, according to Assistant Principal Dr. Jeremy Spurley, who also says that there have been 13 to 14 students who tested positive due to exposure on campus since returning to school from winter break. 

Prior to break, “I believe we’ve had zero cases of students who were exposed here at school, who ended up testing positive,” says Dr. Spurley. But now lines of students are seen each day during class outside of Student Services. Those students, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, are getting notified of close contact, then sent back to class as normal with a printed notice to take home. When the students tell their parents on their own accord, they are picked up as soon as possible.

Starting Jan. 10, new COVID protocols will be implemented.

Staff & Student Guidelines

  • Staff and students are required to wear masks indoors and outdoors at all times (preferably medical grade, but not required for students).
  • Both staff and students are required to get tested on the 6th day from time of exposure.
  • Vaccination status is same for both staff and students (to be considered fully vaccinated, one must have both doses and booster, if eligible).
  • If unvaccinated students or students who are eligible for booster that have not received booster dose are exposed on campus, they will be in Modified School Quarantine (students remain in school and attend classes as normal, but will not participate in sports or other after-school activities).
  • Staff who have not been vaccinated or have not received a booster are required to isolate at home if exposed or tested positive.

Seeing as the number of COVID cases are rising by the day, time will only tell how many students will continue to be absent within the coming weeks. More days off are around the corner, and that could increase the number of students being exposed to the virus.

On-campus COVID testing is available at West Covina High School and Edgewood Schools Monday – Friday from 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.