By Juliet Becker, Online Feature Editor
// The Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) Governing Board announced both in a meeting on August 4 and in a district-wide email that AUHSD students, teachers, and staff members must wear masks indoors. They also implemented several other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as screening for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure.
“We’re using passive symptom and exposure screening. Last year, … we used the Company Nurse app. We’re not using that this year. We are asking our students and our staff and visitors to screen themselves,” Board President Christopher Severson said at the meeting.
Under the new COVID-19 guidelines, social distancing is not required and masks are optional for students and staff when outdoors. However, the Board recommends that people wear their masks outside if there are large crowds present.
“Masking is optional outdoors. It is encouraged if the outdoor setting is crowded and especially for unvaccinated individuals. When school is in session, all [people] indoors, regardless of vaccination status, will be wearing masks,” Severson said.
Although some students would prefer being unmasked in classrooms, they are willing to wear masks to protect themselves and others from the COVID-19 variants.
“Though it’s annoying and uncomfortable, I think that the indoor mask mandate is necessary seeing that even vaccinated people are catching the new form of COVID-19, the Delta variant. I would prefer no masks indoors … but I, of course, understand the need for face masks,” sophomore Madeline Barth said.
Others were concerned about how other community members will act with the optional outdoor mask mandate.
“I also can’t help but think that since it’s not really being enforced and is largely based on an honor system, if unvaccinated people are not masking, [they are] creating more risk. It’s not easy to get a population that has been locked down for over a year to adhere to masks still, but the danger isn’t over yet,” senior Mika Eloyan said.
Despite taking precautionary measures, the Board suggests that the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.
“Public health officials and the medical community identify vaccination as the best strategy to mitigate [the] risk of COVID-19. We believe that all should be vaccinated, but we think it’s [the student’s] healthcare provider who should make that decision,” Severson said.
With the new guidelines in place, many students are optimistic that the Acalanes community will remain safe this upcoming school year.
“I’m confident that people in our community will take the right precautions and that the school is doing what it can,” Eloyan said.