The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

Midway will be taking a break over the summer
After reminiscing with fond memories, Class of 2024 graduates in Rockefeller Chapel

New COVID-19 mindset confronts new wave

Carter Chang
Oliver Go, Ketan Kandula, wearing a mask, and George Ofori-Mante converse in a library room.

The World Health Organization officially declassified COVID-19 as a public health emergency months ago. The debate over mask and vaccine mandates is no longer a hot topic. Virtual Zoom meetings are a thing of the past for U-High. But as schools are back in session, a new wave of COVID-19 cases is arriving, including at Lab.

More than three years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, new strains of the virus continue to evolve and circulate, and hospitalizations are rising nationally. But the new wave, along with its recommendations, come at a different juncture than before — one where many are weary of talking about COVID and the subject has faded from daily conversation.

Senior Cameron Grant said there doesn’t seem to be much public discussion of the new wave. After seeing family members infected recently, he wishes to see more awareness.

“I know a significant amount of people who are currently out with COVID, both teachers and nonteachers, throughout Lab,” Cameron said. “I would like to hear more from the administration. The only place that I heard about it, before my parents became ill, was through TikTok.”

The Food and Drug Administration approved new COVID-19 booster shots on Sept. 11, and on Sept. 12 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the shots for Americans aged 6 months and older.

Renuga Vivekanandan, the division chief of infectious diseases at Creighton University School of Medicine, said pandemic-era applications continue to be effective ways to slow the spread.

“Getting vaccinated is really important because we know vaccines are effective,” Dr. Vivekanadan said. “If you’re ill and have a runny nose, coughing or a fever, stay home and get better before you go back to school. We should be using cough etiquette and good hand hygiene as well.”

Dr. Vivekanandan said she doesn’t predict a return in mask or vaccine mandates, one of the more controversial topics during the pandemic. Still, she believes wearing masks is still important when one is sick or is trying to protect susceptible loved ones.

“If somebody in your family is immunocompromised or has a high risk health condition,” Dr. Vivekanandan said, “be careful around them and if you’re sick, wear a mask, because you want to protect your grandma or grandpa.”

Dr. Vivekanandan echoed the idea that COVID-19 will likely become endemic, similar to influenza, in the way it recurs every season.

“Flu season starts in the fall time, and COVID is going to take a similar pattern,” Dr. Vivekanandan said. “Kids are back in school and once the weather gets colder, they will be indoors more, and there will be more transmission of the virus. Unfortunately, COVID is not going to go away. I think of COVID as another winter virus.”

U-High science teacher Matt Martino said he believes the community should revisit basic practices when it comes to slowing the spread at school. Dr. Martino also emphasized the importance of booster shots.

“Everybody should take the opportunity to go to those vaccine clinics that are coming up in October,” Dr. Martino said. “I know I’m signing my family up for them all, very soon. It can’t hurt to remind people about it.”

Like some other U-High students, sophomore Zoe Alphonse said that she was not aware of this upticking in cases. Still, she believes the U-High community is better prepared for one this time.

“We now know what to do when a new wave strikes or when we see a spike in cases,” Zoe said. “I have confidence that we, in a community sense, will deal with it better. I would be interested in what the school has to say or any changes in protocols if they have any in mind.” 

For those who do get sick, Dr. Martino said he strongly encourages students to take time off to recover when infected with COVID-19 or any other illness.

“It’s one of those compounding things in which if you don’t rest, then you only get worse,” Dr. Martino said. “You miss more than if you had just rested, and now you’re losing sleep because you stayed up way too late to try to catch up on stuff, and now your quality of work the next day is terrible, and now you’re falling behind again — get better and rest first.”

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About the Contributors
Taariq Ahmed
Taariq Ahmed, Digital Editor
Taariq Ahmed is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as the digital editor. He joined the Midway as a sophomore after moving from St. Louis, where he completed Introduction to Journalism at his previous school in ninth grade. Taariq is a part of his school's Young Men of Color group and Being Racially Aware and Valuing Ethnicity conference board. Outside of school, Taariq enjoys reading the news, listening to music, playing soccer and spending time with family and friends.
Carter Chang
Carter Chang, Photographer
Carter Chang is a member of the Class of 2024 and serves as a photojournalism editor-in-chief. He joined the photo staff in the 2021-22 school year as a sophomore and returned as a senior. His favorite part of photojournalism is being able to capture the raw emotions expressed by people in school life photography. Outside of photojournalism, Carter enjoys all things health and fitness related. His favorite sport to shoot is tennis.  Awards: 2023 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Academic photo, certificate of merit, "Burning up"

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