Students return to DPMHS, adjust to relaxed COVID-19 protocols
August 19, 2022
Freshman Serena Elkins started her first day of school nervous but began to feel better as the day progressed.
“Now that I’m around and meeting teachers and people, I am feeling more confident that it’s the right choice,” Elkins said.
Daniel Pearl Magnet High School’s (DPMHS) 227 students started classes on Aug. 15 for the 2022-23 school year. After more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, new students like Elkins, as well as returning students, are adjusting to more relaxed COVID-19 protocols. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) made many changes, some of them being the withdrawal of weekly PCR tests and lifting the mask mandate.
Though Elkins feels more confident in school, that doesn’t apply to the new COVID-19 guidelines. She and her friend, freshman Sarina Falahaty, agree that weekly PCR testing needs to be conducted.
“I think that it’s really bad that we don’t take a test every week because what if someone has COVID and you get it and you might not know,” Falahaty said.
This hits close to home as she previously gave her mother COVID-19 but didn’t realize it because she was asymptomatic.
There are a lot of mixed emotions from new and returning students as they get back to school regarding the updated COVID-19 guidelines.
“Instead of requiring every student and employee to test weekly with a PCR test, only those who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or who have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive, will be required to test,” the district said in an Aug. 2 statement.
New DPMHS Magnet Coordinator Natalie Berghoudian explained that the school administration does not have a say in COVID-19 protocols.
“We as a school don’t get to make our policies. We have to follow whatever L.A. Unified recommends so I think that’s the challenge,” Berghoudian said.
She mentioned that if there were to be a positive case in the school, it would be up to that person to upload a picture of their positive test results to the Daily Pass website. Last year, through PCR testing, the school knew about positive cases and would take precautions. Now, the COVID-19 school report card website includes updates on the number of COVID-19 cases among students.
While some DPMHS students are concerned over the new protocols, others are less affected by this change.
“Well I think the COVID cases aren’t really rising anymore so I don’t really have a problem but if it does, the testing should come back,” sophomore Ikra Arif said.
The California for All tracking data shows that the amount of both cases and deaths is gradually decreasing. On Aug. 1, there were 16,954 COVID-19 cases in California which plummeted to 7,367 cases by Aug. 12. There was one COVID-19 death on Aug. 12 whereas on Aug. 1 there were 21 deaths.
Junior Andrew Arevalo has also decided to take safety precautions into his home life.
“As for the COVID tests, I still have rapid ones at home,” Arevalo said. “I’ll take one if I don’t feel well because I still feel like that’s very important even if COVID is going a little bit lower.”
Senior Jessie Witt is cautious about LAUSD lifting its mask mandate.
“I personally like keeping my mask on but I just don’t really care either way,” Witt said. “It’s up to the person if they want to.”
Elkins, like Witt, wears masks any chance she can get, even wearing them all the time indoors.
“My family and I still very much live in a COVID world so I’m wearing masks indoors and I take it off outdoors because we’ve agreed that that’s okay but I wear it all the time indoors,” Elkins said.
Math Teacher Tuan “Duke” Huynh feels more optimistic about the new guidelines as COVID-19 cases are going down.
“COVID is going to be around much like the flu or the cold,” Duke said. “The reason why I feel safer is because we have remedies.”