Frustrations are high for students at Le Mars Community High School. Students in the district said they want to see things get fixed and for COVID to stop taking over life.
Their first concern makes total sense. Students are required to wear masks, but if people who they sit by or are exposed to test positive for COVID, they’re still required to quarantine.
“If we wear a mask in school and people believe they work, then the people who ‘sat by’ or were ‘exposed’ to someone that tested positive should not have to be quarantined out of school,” the concerned group of students said. “Yes, we agree to wear the masks as it does prevent the spread, but we shouldn’t have to leave the school for two weeks if we’ve been exposed if we were a mask like the school says we should.”
Special concern is given to the seniors. Students say “everything is being taken away.”
“So far this year, we have no homecoming dance or parade or winter dances,” they said. “Other schools are still having these events, so yes, it is up to the school to decide whether or not we have these school activities.”
They said the student council has offered ideas for alternative events, but every idea was immediately shot down. Some seniors are quarantined for the second time this year – which adds up to 28 days.
Other ideas included an outside dance. Students would follow the mask-wearing rule even outside to stay safe. Families would sit together for the parade, and classes would remain isolated to the classes people would be in for the remainder of the year.
The students suggested having students get up and move around every 14 minutes in a class period so there wouldn’t be any need for quarantine. They said that was shut down by the superintendent as well as the community public health nurse.
They were told they couldn’t do it because then they wouldn’t be able to trace where they’ve been if someone tested positive. Students say they wouldn’t need to do that if they were allowed to move around.
“Other schools like Kingsley-Pierson, MOC-FV and other Sioux City schools are doing this idea and it is working well,” they said. “We have more healthy kids sitting at home because of quarantining than we do sick kids.”
Finally, the students said it’s a virus and it isn’t going to go away.
“We need to stop living in fear and move on,” they said. “We can’t live like this for the rest of our lives. Yes, we understand that it does kill people. But there are other things happening. COVID-19 is not the only sickness causing damage, but it’s the only thing people are afraid of because it’s new.”
While the students understand the school may be nervous about a lawsuit or making families upset, they just want to have a sense of normalcy.
“We aren’t bashing the school or throwing the school under the bus for everything they are doing, but changes need to happen,” they said. “When will normal, be normal? Never? OK, then we need to start living without fear. Most people don’t want to live like this for the rest of their lives.”