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By Alyssa Martin

Shields up. Masks on. Students have diligently followed safety precautions on the hybrid schedule, but very limited social distancing is now what Nation Ford students must cope with after coming back to classes five days a week. Nation Ford clearly is not ready for five days a week as they have 12 times the quarantines more than Fort Mill High last week, according to the Fort Mill School District COVID-9 Dashboard. 

When the South Carolina and then Fort Mill announced on Feb. 22 that students will be attending classes five days a week, face-to-face, the situation sounded intimidating to many who are still not happy about this decision. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci,  director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president, continues to warn against lifting COVID-19 measures. 

Despite this, Republican-led states, including South Carolina, push on, removing precautions. Neither teachers nor students could be offered the COVID-19 vaccine and students when the state demanded schools hold five-day-a-week classes. 

Until all students can get the vaccine, which will not be until next school year for those under 16, the impossibility of social distancing puts families and students at risk, disregards the mental health of students, and ruins an A/B day routine everyone had become accustomed to.

The biggest fear for many is contracting COVID-19 and potentially spreading the virus, but the spectre of quarantines looms large. This detrimental situation could happen easily due to teachers and students not wearing their masks properly and crowding in closed spaces, such as hallways and the Commons, and variants on the rise.

Students already felt the loss of traditions such as dances and pep rallies but the disappointments might continue to get worse now that everyone has returned. Even though a scaled-down prom is planned, it could very well never happen.

Students must wear masks for the greater good, and should follow social distancing guidelines, but how are we supposed to socially distance when they will be in computer labs, packed like sardines with students merely inches apart. 

Measures are being taken to try to include more students safely, but there is only so much the school can do with limited space. 

“We will be adding 10-15 more tables at lunch. It will not look normal, but it will look better than what it is now,” Principal Jason Johns said.

However, some tables are empty while others are crowded with students sitting closer than recommended – with no masks on while they eat.

Principal Johns also stated that the plexiglass on students desks will remain. The shields help some, but make it harder to communicate when students are called on in class. It is also difficult to see the board with the resulting glare and distortion. 

In addition, with a higher likelihood of students getting sick, the situation could result in the school closing, which then would lead to the highly anticipated social events being taken away from seniors, again. 

Like many of her colleagues, history teacher Jennifer Mummert is opposed to changing A/B day. “Why fix something that isn’t broken?” she says “The A/B day schedule has been working well, so why is it getting changed now?” 

Mrs. Mummert makes a great point. Students and teachers have been used to the constant routine of A/B day, and more than halfway through the year, and the change has drastically affected everyone. As of April 19, 1,002 students have been quarantined at Nation Ford, and clearly the rush to return to school was not a positive move.

This decision by the South Carolina state legislature should have been more carefully considered regarding the way it could affect our community.

The opinions of students should be valued in decisions that affect our day-to-day lives.

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