The San Dieguito Union High School District’s constantly evolving COVID-19 policy has been communicated to parents and students through a series of email updates. To explain the latest revisions, the district sent out a link to “Decision Tree Guidelines,” comprehensive flow charts detailing isolation and testing protocol. For example, one guideline advises that all students who share an indoor airspace for 15 minutes or more with an individual who was contagious with COVID-19 must test negative on Day 3, 4, or 5 since the exposure in order to remain in school, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection.
Keeping in mind that from Jan. 10 to Jan. 17, the number of SDUHSD students restricted from campus for quarantine or isolation jumped from 250 to more than 850, it’s easy to see how exposures could be a daily occurrence that would thus mandate daily testing.
The success of this plan, however, is dependent on the false assumption that tests are desired by, and easily accessible to, all students.
“I think [at-home testing] is incredibly under-regulated because it’s all self-reporting,” said Hannah, a student who described the distribution of at-home tests as “incredibly inefficient and inaccessible.” Another student who waited in line at a district-organized drive-through test distribution event estimated that it took about an hour to receive two tests.
Frustrated by the messages inundating their inboxes, some students have stopped reading emails from the district altogether. Others never started.
“I don’t know what they are,” said TPHS senior Pierce when asked about the school’s COVID guidelines. After learning them, he said that he agreed with keeping masks on indoors, but thought the testing policy was overkill.
A number of students worry that the school isn’t doing enough.
“I think certain events should either be canceled or treated with a little more caution,” Toby, a TPHS senior, said. “I’m just feeling as though we’re putting things like assignments and tests before health and safety, which is really scary to me.”
One event that’s generated mixed reactions is the upcoming Winter Formal. For many seniors, it’s an opportunity to make up for all the school dances missed during their time in quarantine before they set off for college. However, tickets for the dance (which must be purchased in advance) are not refundable for any reason, including the cancellation of the event due to a spike in positive cases.
“I want to participate in these events because I won’t have another year to do these kinds of things, but there’s also the pandemic and the worries of getting people sick,” Toby said. “That’s the conflicting feeling here.”