Covid-Related Absences Creating Challenges for Students


Photo courtesy of NHS Instagram

Kalyani Ryaru, Reporter

With the COVID-19 variant Omicron rapidly spreading throughout Novato High School and Marin County, students are facing the reality of needing to quarantine for anywhere from 5-10 days. The abundance of absences throughout the month of January was alarming, creating a major challenge for both students and teachers.

With there being so many exposures, there has been confusion regarding when it is appropriate to get a test. Novato High principal Mark Brewer provided some information on this topic.

“Wait for 3 to 5 days and monitor for symptoms, then come get a test. It takes at least 3 days from exposure for the virus to be detected with the antigen test,” he explained in an email interview. 

Getting COVID-19 and having to quarantine for 5-10 days can lead to the stress of falling behind at school. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), “Day 0 is the day symptoms began or the day of the positive viral test (for people with no COVID-19 symptoms).” 

According to the NHS Instagram account, a student can return as soon as day 5 if they are fever-free, symptoms are improving and they test negative on day 5. If a student tests positive on day 5, they continue to quarantine and retest on Day 7. If the student tests negative, they can return to school as long as they are not experiencing a fever. And on day 11, a student can return to school regardless of test results (no test needed). 

As far as staying caught up at school, Brewer explained, “​​Email your teachers for directions as soon as you are out on quarantine. They will give you the information for each class.” 

The thought of Zooming into class has crossed some students’ minds, but Brewer noted, “As a general practice we do not have students Zoom into class during their quarantine.” 

NHS junior Julia Bleth, an MSA and AP student, had to quarantine. She discussed the importance of real-time learning. 

“With APUSH (AP US History), you don’t really do a lot of in-class work, but a lot of the content is lecturing. So I need to be in class to see the lecture,” she said. 

She explained that she had to reach out to her teachers via email in order to receive her assignments. Some teachers, including her APUSH teacher, uploaded Zoom lectures from last years’ virtual learning. 

Some students have also discussed recording lectures for one another if they ended up needing to quarantine, but even then it’s hard not to fall behind. 

Bleth discussed COVID brain fog potentially making assignments difficult to complete in a timely manner. She explained that “It takes me a while to process information,” because of the brain fog when she was sick. 

Bleth attends MSA for art and creative writing. When discussing her art class she noted, “I’m working on this big project in my MSA class, but I left it there. I can’t exactly go back and get it because it’s an in-class project, so I’m going to be really behind on that project.” 

While a lot of assignments can be completed online (on Google Classroom), there are some things, like projects for art class or MSA rehearsals, that need to be done in person. 

Clearly quarantining is necessary during this era of COVID-19, but the reality of students falling behind and the impact on students’ learning is an obstacle that is difficult to navigate.