How to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic


Chelsie Cooley, Editor-in-Chief

     The comfortable, heated seats of your car warm your body as you drive to school and park in one of the only available parking spots. You put the vehicle into park and turn off your car, opening your door. Crisp autumn air rushes against your cheeks as you begin walking up to your high school. Reaching into your pocket you pull out two items, your badge and your mask. You slide on your mask and open the doors with your badge. You raise your head to the temperature scanner and then continue on walking to your class. 

     This is a basic morning in the life of a Highlands High schooler during the COVID-19 pandemic: face masks, temperature checks, intensive cleaning. These guidelines are put in place to keep students and staff safe. 

     Assistant Superintendent Jamee Flaherty emphasizes the importance of these guidelines, saying, “These expectations are in place to mitigate the risk of spread of COVID[-19]. Studies have shown that when following these expectations, the risk of spread is reduced significantly.” 

     Making sure you have your face mask is always step one to everyone’s day, but wearing it correctly is key to staying safe and healthy. It has been proven, in numerous studies, that neck gaiters and bandanas are not as effective as a cloth face mask. Proper face masks have a double layer of washable, breathable fabric that keeps the wearer from spreading potentially infected droplets of air. The CDC says cloth face masks are the most effective type of face mask. While neck gaiters are thin, stretchy, and easy to breathe out of, they are so thin that they do not provide an adequate amount of protection. Bandanas are also not effective because they are open at the bottom. The CDC stated that wearing proper face masks that cover both the mouth and nose is the most effective defense against COVID-19 at the moment, and have been proven to slow the spread of the virus. 

     Washing your hands to help fight against germs is another of the best defenses against most illnesses. It is recommended to wash your hands with liquid soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds, especially before and after being in a public place, putting on and off your mask, sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose. Even though alcohol-based hand sanitizer is accepted, it is not as good as washing your hands. 

     Inside and outside of school, it is important to distance from others.  Unfortunately, after school and on weekends, students have been seen gathering in their friend groups, unmasked and unprotected. 

     Flaherty urges students not to do this, saying, “Outside of school, it is extremely important to limit your contact with friends. Students should not be gathering in groups at this time as cases are rising in our state and county. We have seen that actions outside of school can impact students’ abilities to attend in person.”

     Protecting yourself and others all comes down to the honor system. If you have symptoms, even minor ones, it is suggested that you stay home and self-isolate. Some symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, tiredness, loss of taste or smell, aches and pains, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, red eyes, or a skin rash. If you have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, it is suggested that you seek medical attention immediately. 

     Sometimes there can be worries inside of the classroom, as well. Whether students and faculty are wearing their masks and wearing them correctly, has been a big challenge in most schools around the United States. 

     Flaherty discusses the ways that you can be heard.“Please let your principal or assistant principal know of any concerns that you may have. Students can also utilize the Tipline, which is on our district website, to communicate concerns.” 

     As cases in Kentucky are rising, residents must all keep a united front, protecting ourselves and each other. The number of people in intensive care has doubled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic along with the number of people being hospitalized increasing by a third since September. Case numbers in Kentucky are going up, although testing numbers are going down. Every single week, Kentucky continues to see spikes in deaths and cases. Stay safe, wear a mask, and get tested, Bluebirds!