Living in the Past or Protecting the Future?

How School COVID Guidelines Have Changed

Meriwether Ruby, Intro Writer

After a full year of the COVID-19 pandemic, cases are finally starting to drop, vaccines are becoming more widespread, and rules are becoming more relaxed. According to the CDC, more than 15% of Americans have been fully vaccinated, and about four million are vaccinated per day. As the number of vaccinated individuals rises, mask mandates and social distancing restrictions are becoming more relaxed, including at Trinity.

“The teachers were good about telling us [to stay cautious] [in December], and I feel like the strictness kind of goes with the number of COVID cases,” Burgos said.

This past December, there was a huge spike in cases more than doubling the amount of confirmed COVID-19 cases in July. When cases rise, some teachers and students become more relaxed with mandates and regulations.

“I’m a bit of a germaphobe,” eighth grader Adi Burgos said. “So I wasn’t all that comfortable once things started to get more relaxed. I’m usually the one that tells people to pull their masks up and social distance.”

According to Rich Library clerk Connie Milander, the library has instituted many new guidelines this year in order to keep students and faculty members safe. Maintaining social distancing, staying seated, and not being allowed to use the book racks have been difficult to adjust to, but nonetheless necessary.

“I think it’s just different,” Milander said. “And it’s a matter of adapting to this pandemic that none of us saw coming.”

Milander believes that the changes in the library have made for a difficult adjustment because the library is now a very controlled environment when in past years it was more of an informal gathering place.

“I know this is often a space that allows you to come in and relax, talk and walk around to each other and find different little places to sit,” Milander said. “But it truly comes from my heart wanting to keep you guys all safe.”

Last summer’s protocols were strict and firm as cases rose. But, Burgos has decided to be even more cautious than before to keep herself, family and friends safe.

“Coming back from spring break, I didn’t know where everyone was traveling,” Burgos said. “So I decided to start wearing two masks.”

Some teachers and students may say that cases are lowering and people are starting to become immune, but Burgos believes that these precautions need to continue until the virus is completely gone.

“Some people might say that it’s not worth the effort and that we should just let the schools go fully back to normal,” Burgos said. “But there have been many, many deaths in Florida just this month already.”

During lunch, break or even just walking around, some students are not following social distancing measures and proper mask-wearing requirements. When Burgos sees this, she instinctively will take a step back, follow the guidelines, and make sure to let the people know that they need to respect the rules and regulations.

As the year goes on, regulations that originated at the beginning of the year have changed to make school a little more “normal.” When school started in August, chapel and other school services turned virtual, but since then, many have changed to an in-person setting.

It isn’t just Trinity that has gotten more relaxed with COVID-19 protocols. Stores and outside areas have started to slowly get a little bit more back to normal as well.

Counties all over the state of Florida are starting to lift their mask mandate, including Pasco, Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Burgos recalls a time when she went to a store and counted approximately 20 people not wearing a mask at all.

“That just made me feel more inclined to social distance more,” Burgos said. “But it does make you feel a bit nervous, and then the second after you think that, maybe that’s a sign we’re getting back to normal.”

According to Burgos, the precautions and situations that happened during these times were difficult, but now we have the ability to bond with friends in a much more intimate way.

“Now we’re all facing a pandemic together, and I feel like that is something to unite us all,” Burgos said.