Students and Staff’s Opinion on Omicron


Anika Konkati

Sixth period band rehearses a piece while wearing masks.

Since Irvington students returned from break on January 10th, 2022, students and staff have worried about the increasing rate of COVID-19 infection, but have taken the same precautions as before the surge.

As of Saturday, January 29, 2022, Irvington has had 83 total cases of COVID-19 on campus, comprising 1.17% of the population[1]. Despite the increase in cases and uncertainty of a new variant, many students and staff do not feel compelled to take additional precautions such as appropriate physical distancing when possible and sanitizing all surfaces in school, especially because most of them have been vaccinated.

“Omicron is not nearly as severe in terms of symptoms—but it’s a lot more contagious. A lot of people just have it and they don’t even realize that they have it,” stated student Neha Abraham (12). “While it is scary, I’m still fine with coming to school and doing things because I’m not going to get super sick.”

Some students and staff contracted the virus over Winter Break, including Mr. Thomas. Like other people who contracted COVID-19 during the omicron surge, the virus was no threat to him.

“I haven’t really been worried about it for myself at all, but for mostly others, like my father, for example; he is immunocompromised,” said Mr. Thomas.

Irvington teachers have frequently substituted for sick teachers during the surge due to the overwhelming demand for substitute teachers. In addition to the work teachers already had to do for their own classes, they tried to fill in for other teachers. Special education teacher Mrs. Stilwell substituted for her husband as well as other teachers in January.

“One teacher was going to be out and she had no way to get all the things she needed together,” described Mrs. Stilwell. “So even though she wrote a lesson plan, it wouldn’t have made sense if the [materials weren’t] there.” 

She and fellow teacher Mr. Thomas share similar opinions about remedying the shortage of substitute teachers.

“There’s really no good solution to this problem besides throwing a ton of money at it,” said Mr. Thomas. “If we can pay substitutes a lot better, there would be more people who are willing to go into that field.”

The pandemic, among other things, has exposed underlying problems within Irvington. Whether or not current precautions will be enough is yet to be seen as cases continue to rise.