Omicron causes reiteration of Covid guidelines at MC


Tim Baffoe

Masked-up MC students working on a given assignment.

The new Omicron variant of Covid-19 is spreading rapidly. Mount Carmel is taking heavy precautions.

Currently, Covid-19 cases are increasing at an alarming rate. However, with other schools shutting down, Mount Carmel is reinforcing their guidelines to contain the spread. Mask mandates have been tightened as well as maintaining an individual distance while students change classes.
Principal Scott Tabernacki announced on the first day getting back from Christmas break that the Covid-19 regulations are once again in full effect. To maintain an in-person education students need to be responsible with their mask-wearing, and teachers have made an effort to prevent any students from wearing their masks improperly. Social distancing was also mentioned to students to try and be mindful of the spacing between each other.
Remote learning is not expect in the near future unless there was to be a mass outbreak in the school. There have been some individual cases among students and faculty, but contact tracing procedures and the increasing rate of vaccination among the MC community has allowed many who would otherwise have had to quarantine at home because of their proximity to a Covid-infected student or teacher to remain at school if they aren’t experiencing symptoms.

Sports and athletics will continue just as long as athletes take the proper precautions to keep themselves and others safe. The faculty is making an effort to keep the school as clean as possible to prevent germs from being passed. “It’s the simple things,” says Mr. Tabernacki, “the mask-wearing, keeping a distance when possible, washing your hands in the bathroom, helping us wipe down the tables, and things like that. All that promotes this clean environment and this awareness.”
The Omicron variant’s seemingly being more contagious has caused it to spread greatly across the Chicago area and the rest of the country over the last month. This news riled up many schools and universities across the nation, causing some to shut down. Throughout the last year leading up to now, the Covid-19 guidelines have been stronger than ever. “We didn’t have more than five reported cases coming into the new year,” said Mr. Tabernacki. “That’s pretty incredible for a school our size.”
While inside, Mount Carmel teachers are expected to tell students to keep their masks above their noses. This is a vital safeguard for students to not pass Covid-19 unknowingly amongst classmates and teachers.

Although this is a rule that must be followed, some students are tired of wearing masks. Elijah Jointer, captain of the Caravan basketball team, is taking a positive approach. “You know, the first week when we come back everyone wants to make sure that they’re masked up,” he said. “But as time goes on we do all get a little relaxed and we are all guilty of that. I think with being more strategic about how to go about things we could definitely change that.”
Though many students and faculty may be vaccinated, they may still be subject to contracting Covid-19. Teachers such as Mr. John Stimler can’t help but be concerned for the well being of family, faculty, and students. “I see the numbers,” says Mr. Stimler. “It’s concerning that people have done what people have asked and get vaccinated, get their boosters, and are still subject to it. Now hearing other family members of mine have the Omicron variant right now, it’s just frustrating.”
Mr. Daniel Burke shares a similar idea of interest when it comes to masking and following the Covid-19 guidelines. “You see it all the time with people not having it over their nose or under their chin,” he says. “I’m more worried about how fast it could spread with the students. We could have a bunch of people out without much warning.”
Unfortunately, it is not a given that MC will not return to remote learning. Covid-19 cases are still at a rapid increase. Mr. Tabernacki is confident in the guidelines and faculty to keep the school’s doors open.

“We need to make sure that we have enough confidence in ourselves in what we are doing. It takes a little bit of bravery for each and every one of us to come here every day.”