Rising COVID-19 cases spark uncertainty and booster discussion


Sara Zukowsky

Lunch tables return to seating four-to-a-table in light of recent COVID-19 case numbers rising.

Sara Zukowsky, Staff Writer

COVID-19 has become a growing concern among the WA community, with an increase in the number of cases each day following the winter break. During the week of Jan. 3-7, COVID-19 cases have been increasing resulting in discussions regarding possibilities of virtual school, lunch table policies, and booster shots as preventative measures.

A bar graph shows the number of new COVID-19 cases during the week returning from winter break. (Created by Sara Zukowsky)

As of Monday, Jan. 3, the COVID-19 booster is now available to the entirety of WA. The FDA approved the decision to allow those 12-15 years old to receive the booster shot as soon as hospitals open registration. Students or teachers who received their second dose of the vaccine in July of 2021 or earlier are eligible to receive their booster.

Antonelli believes the booster could help lower absence rates and feels that the school is becoming more vaccinated.

Even with the boosters potentially helping to reduce cases, the entire school just recently became eligible, meaning the boosters have not had a chance to make an impact. There are still concerns over being at school with the quick spread of Omicron and the increase of the cases.

“The increase in COVID-19 numbers is a big concern and there should have been anticipation from the school district that there would be a large increase in the number of cases. To me, the puzzling part is why the school didn’t give a day or two at home to let the situation calm down a bit,” sophomore Ashwin Sivaprakash said.

Even with the quick spread of COVID-19 this week, Principal James Antonelli is not looking to return to a hybrid or remote model, as the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is mandating that schools remain in-person full time, five days a week.

However, other changes are being made. In early December, WA allowed students to sit six students per lunch table as cases began to drop in comparison to the 4-to-a-table rule initiated at the start of the year. However, lunch table seating has decreased again to four people following Christmas break.

Antonelli believed the rule to be a good idea in light of the Omicron variant, as well as the fact that many families traveled over the break.

Even with the help of the boosters, and the changing of the 4-to-a-table rule, Antonelli believes students and teachers will be in masks for most of the school year. However, he also thinks that the booster is beneficial.

“It’s the only real way to move beyond this pandemic,” Antonelli said.

Students and teachers are hopeful that the booster will help WA return to normal.

“I hope that with people getting boosted, COVID’s going to have less of an ill effect on the health of the student body,” senior Alpana Bakshi said.

While Antonelli said that COVID-19 cases were relatively under control before the break, he is waiting to see if more cases will emerge after vacation.

“The next two weeks will tell the story,” Antonelli said.