Normal School Year? Not So Fast, Says the COVID-19 Delta Variant

How MHS has adapted to the highly transmissible Delta Variant.


John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center tracker shows a spike in COVID-19 cases around August 8, 2021.

Sebastian Gold, H&W Page Editor

After a long, stressful, and sometimes demoralizing year, it seemed like the world had finally begun to move on from COVID-19. According to data from the CDC early this summer, the United States was averaging around 12,000 cases of the virus a day during late June, the lowest since March 2020. However, by the end of August, that number had ballooned to nearly 200,000 a day, largely because of the vicious Delta Variant.
Of course, while more people had been vaccinated by this point, infection numbers were still astronomical. But what did all of this mean for Mamaroneck High School? The Globe spoke with Principal Elizabeth Clain to find out.
Clain explained how in July, the district’s administration felt confident and cautiously optimistic about a near-normal school year. “Numbers were looking good, a lot of kids were vaccinated,” she said. The administration anticipated that the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), which informs all of the district’s COVID-19 policies, might lift mask regulations based on the trajectory of COVID-19 cases at that point.
It had also been decided by June that the drop schedule would be making a return, something that was sacrificed during the 2020-21 school year. Yet, by the time August rolled around, the administration began to backtrack on the plans for a completely “normal” new school year. At that point, COVID-19 case numbers had drastically increased to around six or seven times what they were when the initial plans for 2021-22 were devised.
Around this time, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a mandate that required masks to be worn in all schools.. Following the passage of this law, the administration had to make new plans. Clain mentioned that, fortunately, this shift in state requirements was not difficult to incorporate into the plans for the new school year. And now that everyone is back in school, students are experiencing something in between last year and a normal year, with some, but limited, social distancing, and the elimination of zoom from the learning environment.
Moving forward, Clain hopes that the NYS restrictions will only be loosened, not tightened. When asked about a possible return to the hybrid learning model that was prevalent last year, she remarked, “I feel a lot more confident because we’ve all done this before, we are a highly vaccinated community, and live in a state which has a mask mandate. We have seen that masks work. I don’t anticipate a return to hybrid.”
As for the removal of masks, it will be a wait-and-see situation as the Governor’s school mask mandate still remains in place for the near future. The district will be flexible yet alert, constantly monitoring case numbers, hospitalizations, vaccinations, and NYSDOH guidelines.