COVID-19 has affected the daily lives of students in ways that we couldn’t even imagine. For this pandemic to even come close to an end, people must take safety precautions for the benefit of themselves and others. The CDC has compiled a list of suggested actions for people to take during this time. Some of these safety measures include wearing a mask, maintaining a social distance of 6 feet, washing hands, and more. As school started, these guidelines were made mandatory for students and staff alike. At the beginning of the school day, students are required to wear a mask, fill out a survey, and get their temperature checked before they are allowed into the school. Students follow these mandatory rules in school but do they also follow these rules outside of school?
The answer to this question is fluid and both sides can be supported. However, from personal experience, I would say that trust in our students should be limited. I am an all-virtual student, but on September 9, 2020, I had to visit the school to hand in some medical forms, and what I saw shocked me. As my dad drove to the high school with me in the passenger seat, I was able to see the students walking to school. Almost none were wearing masks. They held their masks in their hands and only wore them when nearing the school. Not only this, but most of the students were not maintaining the recommended social distance of 6 feet.
The people that I saw were only a small portion of the actual student population so, to gather more information, I set up a survey and asked the students of Ridgewood to answer it. There were a total of 128 replies with the majority saying that they did abide by CDC guidelines in and out of school. However, when the respondents were asked to explain, many of the students admitted to only following some of the guidelines and counting it as following all of them.
Many of the replies submitted explained in detail which ones they didn’t follow and why. Many students generally abide by CDC guidelines with everyone except their friends because they are “close” and they “trust” them. An anonymous student from Benjamin Franklin Middle School wrote, “If I’m in a store or something then I will wear a mask and social distance. However, when I’m with my friends I don’t wear a mask or social distance.” This one idea that was repeated multiple times throughout many responses.
Interacting with a friend presents the same danger as interacting with a stranger, because one does not live with either of them. It is impossible to know where they have been, if they have been taking safety precautions, or if they have interacted with someone with COVID-19. During such a sensitive time, everyone should wear a mask and social distance from strangers and friends alike. My survey indicates that students cannot be trusted to follow CDC guidelines outside of school. As young students ourselves, we frequently want to act without thinking about the consequences, but at such a time like this, everyone should make an effort to stay safe, for themselves and others.
Graphic: Kate Minn