Covid cases follow predictions so far

Kris Long, Sports Editor

Despite the pandemic defining school in 2020, the metrics within the high school for last semester show less than .05% of students at MHS have tested positive. The school has enforced social distancing and masking throughout the semester, and no infections have been traced back to Manhattan High. Instead, students and staff have been exposed in environments unassociated with school, but not spread it to their peers in the building. 

“When you take the number of total cases and compare to the total population of students we have, it’s still a very small percent, and the same goes with staff,” West Campus Nurse Robin Mall said. “There is positivity at the school but in general the numbers are very low. And that does not mean that I don’t take it seriously. It means that I feel like we’re doing a good job.”

During Manhattan High’s first semester in school since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a total of 78 students and staff tested positive. As expected by many, cases remained low in the fall but bagan to increase as winter set in. 

Contrary to rumours within MHS’s student population, Group A and B both had similar case counts — 28 in Group A and 34 in Group B —  showing no evidence either group of students took better precautions. 

East Campus was responsible for about 29.5% of the cases, which is approximately proportional to the overall school population at East and doesn’t suggest any increased spread due to poorer ventilation. 

As expected, cases went up after Thanksgiving Break, with about 48.7% of total cases in the first semester were after break.

“That goes along with how seasonal flu typically goes because people go more indoors instead of being outdoors,” Mall said. “[It] does not surprise me that it went up significantly over Thanksgiving break when it has gotten quite a bit colder and people are spending more time inside.”

Cases are continuing to climb into this semester coming out of winter break, but still no outbreaks have been directly tied to school activities. However, because full in-person school allows for less social distancing, more students are being quarantined because they were in contact with infected classmates. 

“I am incredibly happy to be back at school…  and I want to keep in person school going as much as possible. I think it’s the best for students,” Mall said. “I would say that there are more [student’s quarantining]. When I have to do contact tracing, because there are more students per class, and students are closer together, if a student becomes positive than there are more students that have to be quarantined.”

According to Mall, a few staff members have had serious cases but everyone has recovered or is recovering, but again no outbreaks have been linked to the school. The 280 faculty and staff accounted for 13% of cases at MHS last semester.

Going into the second semester administration is continuing to stress adherence to guidelines — masking, distancing and staying home when ill — as critical to keeping school open. 

Mall urges parents to contact her at [email protected], or call her 587-2100 extension 8036 if they have questions.

“I feel like parents have been really good about keeping their students home if they’re if they’re ill,” Mall said. “I am having a lot of communication with the secretaries, but I’d like to hear from the parents directly.”