As 2021 came to an end and the students returned back to school, a new COVID variant has shown up as well. Omicron has reared its ugly head as a more infective mutation of the virus, with it easily being able to spread around quickly. This new variant has affected schools across the nation, with teachers having up to 50% of their student’s being quarantined or absent. Just in the LAUSD district alone, they recorded 33% absentee across the district. On average, teachers recorded up to 40-50 absent students across all their classes. Of course this brings forth many issues concerning students and teachers. For instance, teachers struggle with trying to keep their quarantined students on track with their regular classes. Teachers can’t continue with a lesson because the absent students won’t be on the same page as regular students when they eventually return. students aren’t being sent back home, teachers are back to being in a full classroom and seeing familiar faces.
For students, it’s difficult to keep up with the homework without the teacher’s guidance and having that face to face learning. Just being given the homework without the much needed learning can cause a student to fall behind, making it very difficult to raise their grades. As well as possibly falling behind with grades, another struggle students face is mental health. Quarantine was hard, mentally, for students as they went from being in a social setting to being stuck at home for a year. Seniors are also really worried about shutdowns with how many people have been sent home, fearing that a possible shutdown could ruin their final year of school and senior activities. As scary as possible shutdowns are, it doesn’t mean students are helpless. Many actions can be done to counteract COVID-19 and it’s variants, like covering up with a mask.
Along with covering up, getting the vaccine and it’s booster is a great way to protect yourself and family against the virus, especially with the new Omicron variant. Taking tests is also very useful in counteracting the virus. Thankfully, as the days go by more and more students are showing up to school again. With classes being almost filled back to how they were, and with students aren’t being sent back home, teachers are back to being in a full classroom and seeing familiar faces.
With COVID-19 cases rising after many gathered for the holidays, many students and families question if it’s safe to be on campus. Although John Glenn is taking the safest precautions to keep Norwalk and the community safe, many question if this is still enough to keep the virus from spreading.
For many, the safest choice at the moment is to stay home and move to online education. There has even been a spike in online classes and independent study as parents want the safest option for their children and other household members.
Seeing how intense the spreading of the virus has become, maybe the safest option would be to stay home and do online courses for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year. This will not only help keep everyone safe and stop the virus from spreading, but students can go back to learning at their own pace with flexible school hours. Online classes have also been said to potentially help students with their mental health as they don’t seem to stress as much about classes or having to attend classes as it is all through a screen. COVID-19 has changed the education system forever, and online school may be even more beneficial for our own well being than in-person classes.
Although returning home for a few weeks to let COVID-19 cases settle down ultimately sounds like a good idea, there are some major consequences in doing so. For example, last year’s quarantine proved that doing school from home made students see school as an option which resulted in low assignment turn-in rate and plummeting grades. We need to keep the school open.
It is important that we take everything into consideration. The nation already spent over a year staying at home, in complete isolation from their family and friends, so going home again may affect our student’s mental health. This year, teachers planned out their year without the intention of returning to online school, and doing so may cause teachers to fall behind on lessons.
Another consequence is the student’s limited access to a good WIFI connection. Over the quarantine period, having good connection was an inevitable obstacle that would stand between a student logging onto class on time and getting their assignments turned in on time. Ultimately, I believe that with time, cases will slowly start to plummet, and we should trust that John Glenn students and administration will continue to do an excellent job with staying safe and making sure they stay home if they have any symptoms.
The American Rescue Plan is a 1.9 trillion dollar economic stimulus bill created by President Joe Biden and signed into law on March 11, 2021. This bill includes many benefits for people who qualify.
This stimulus bill will bring aid to small businesses and communities as well as many others in need.
This new plan covers just a small portion of what is needed in order to rebuild what was of incredible destruction from the previous years, from the United States last administration. We all know how much of a struggle those last four year were.
Anyways, enough about that. It’s time to focus on the new, the better. We’ve finally got some good coming our way, let’s see what that’s all about.
As President Joe Biden stated, “It’s time that we build an economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out. And this bill shows that when you do that, everybody does better.”
With this new plan, Americans are hopeful that the country will begin to recover from not only the consequences wrought by the traumatic pandemic but also from the period of national upheaval and unrest.
The new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Bill proposed by President Biden has been signed by the Senate and the President himself, so here’s what the bill includes:
Most likely, the first thing people are wondering about is the stimulus check, specifically how much they’re getting, and if it’ll be enough to support them. Those eligible are as follows: individual people get $1,400 per person if they earn up to $75,000 per year and for couples if they earn up to $150,000 per year. This means that for a family of 4–two parents and two children–they would receive a check for $5600.
Now, those that are unemployed get $300 a week, which was originally proposed as $400. This will extend up to September 6, 2021.
Public and Education
Over $128 billion in grants is being given to schools, which includes funding for colleges, transit agencies, housing aid, child care providers, and food assistance. $7.5 billion is being sent to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to aid the COVID-19 Vaccines.
Child tax credit has been increased to $3,000 for ages 6-17 and $3,600 for children under 6. As for couples earning $150,000 a year and individuals earning $75,000, this amount is reduced. However, those that are eligible for full credit will get payments up to $300 per month starting July and lasting until the end of the year. Additionally, $7.25 billion is included for a small-business loan program known as PPP which allows for more nonprofits to apply and also includes larger nonprofits to be eligible.
School is a big part of a student’s life and it will prepare them for adulthood, but since 2020 students have been in distant learning and taking classes over Zoom. If given the option to go back on campus, I wanted to see what the students would choose, so I created a Google survey and asked students to participate.
My question was simple, If high schools were to open again and you were given two options to choose from: (1) going back on campus, or, (2) staying home and continuing to do distance learning, which one would you choose?
Out of the fifty students who responded to the survey, the results were pretty close. 52% said they would opt to return to campus while 48% stated they would remain home.
When asked about her choice to continue distance learning, Cadet Paula Huerta stated,
“I personally do not think it is safe enough to go back. My dad is very prone to getting sick and it could be very risky. The vaccine is out but it doesn’t mean it is a cure.”
Personally, I agree with what Huerta has said because it is not yet safe to go back to school even if the vaccine has been released.
Cadet second class Briana Guvara shared that, “Yes I would go back on campus because distance learning is very distracting.”
Staff Sergeant Mia Martinez states, “I would like to go back on campus because I need to get out of the house. And because I miss seeing my friends even if we are conversing from 6 feet apart.” It’s easy to understand that students miss seeing their friends.
Those wanting to return to school have valid reasons. The distractions at home can really get in the way of learning, and all of us miss socializing with friends.
What to Consider?
In January, Harvard Health Publishing released information on the Coronavirus Outbreak, and it stated that younger kids can get COVID-19 too.
Still, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District just reopened elementary schools beginning Monday, March 29th. But unfortunately, there has been no vaccine released for younger children under the age of 16.
Therefore, I don’t believe that it is safe to send them back to school; younger kids are very naive, and they do not always listen to what adults tell them to do. They may not wear their masks. They may share them with friends. If it is not safe for high school students, why would they send little kids to go back to school?
Just because a vaccine was released there are still many possibilities where it can go wrong and turn out for the worst.
UC Davis and WebMD both published articles that share why many people are still hesitant to take the vaccine.
The decision about whether or not it is safe and advisable to return to school remains quite controversial.
If you were given the option, which would you choose? Sound off in our comments section.
Here are the facts on the amazing science behind the quickest vaccine ever produced
By Andrea Arias
In April 2020, amidst the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the question “When will the vaccine be ready?” first arose, the New York Times released an article where they projected that the vaccine could take until 2033, even though health professionals were aiming to get it done by August 2021. Little did they know that in a little over eight months, the first vaccine for COVID-19 would be approved. Remarkable.
Before the COVID-19 vaccine was created, the quickest vaccine was for the mumps in the 1960s, and that vaccine took 4 years. So, why was the COVID vaccine projected to take so long, and how were we able to get it done so quickly?
–Vaccine Development Process–
Vaccines have always been projected to take years, this is due to the process that takes place to create a vaccine. The process of creating a vaccine is done by using a deactivated version of the virus or a “live but mild version” of the virus that has grown to be less severe. This is then injected into someone, which allows our B cells to create and synthesize antibodies to fight the virus if we are ever to come in contact with a live version.
While this is the traditional and most common vaccine (flu vaccines were created using this method), due to the severity and need for a Covid vaccine as quickly as possible, some companies decided to use a new method this time. Since SARS-CoV-2 was a new virus (SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the virus and COVID-19 stands for the disease, Coronavirus Disease 2019), with no previous research or understanding of the virus it would be difficult for a vaccine to be created.
The new method used to create the COVID-19 vaccine is called an mRNA vaccine. mRNA is messenger RNA, and its job is to produce proteins. So, how does an mRNA vaccine work? Well, by encoding mRNA with the information needed to produce the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, this allows the body to then realize that this protein is an invader and produces antibodies to fight it. Essentially, it is the same process as a traditional vaccine, but instead of using a version of the virus, a synthetic mRNA is injected and binds to human cells and then creates a “spike” protein (which is what allows coronavirus to infect other cells).
Only two companies decided to take the approach of using an mRNA vaccine, these two were Moderna and Pfizer. The latter is a company under a German government program that is pushing for a vaccine, and the former is a company under the Operation Warp Speed started by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. With the press release from Moderna and Pfizer, we are able to learn how Phase 1/3 went, and how quickly these two companies were able to come up with a solution and vaccine in just 8 short months. According to BioSpace, by Phase I both Moderna and Pfizer achieved outstanding results in non-human models that produced sufficient CD4+ T cells against the virus (see graphic, below). CD4+ cells are “helper” cells that trigger the body’s response to infections.
This is being attached to T cells which are the key white blood cells for the immune system. Along with this, within the first phase both Moderna and Pfizer realized the importance and essential need for a two-dose vaccine. This was discovered because it was found that 43 days or two weeks after the second dose participants had the same level of antibodies as people who had recovered from the virus. While during Phase I Moderna only managed to create a protein, mRNA-1273, that could protect against replication in the lungs of SARS-CoV-2, in a later phase they found how to also prevent infection from the virus.
–Other Promising Vaccines–
While the mRNA vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer have been the quickest to be created and released, they are not the only vaccines being created. There are three other types of vaccines being used by other companies to help put a stop to this pandemic. Novaxax is creating a protein-based vaccine, which uses related versions of the spike protein and injects this into a person. By doing this, the protein tutors the immune system in how to fight the virus. This, in turn, allows cells to be pushed into the frontlines, dedicated to fighting the virus. Protein vaccines have been around much longer and have been proven to be highly effective, but they are slower to produce than mRNA vaccines.
Research on the Novavax vaccine has found that it has the highest neutralizing antibodies reported yet. Another type of vaccine is the adenovirus-based vaccine; Johnson & Johnson as well as AstraZeneca have been trying to create this type of vaccine, and it appears that Johnson & Johnson has succeeded. Adenovirus-based vaccines are prepared by inserting a transgene cassette into the adenoviral backbone by homologous recombination, which is an exchange of genetic information from similar or identical molecules or DNA or RNA. According to the CDC, this is a vaccine that is taken orally and is only used in the military, and none exist for public or general use in the U.S. Similarly to the protein vaccine, adenovirus vaccine technology has existed for several years but has not been used to create a general vaccine for public use.
–Timeline of Historic Vaccines–
•December 31, 2020 The first case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 was reported in Wuhan, China.
•January 29, 2020 The first lab-grown 2019-nCov was created. This at the time was the first step for a traditional version of a vaccine for COVID-19 to be created.
•February 13, 2020 A radiologist from Wuhan published findings of a chest CT scan which suggested four evolutionary stages of COVID-19, these four stages being the early stage (0–4 days), progressive stage (5–8 days), peak stage (9–13 days), and absorption stage (≥14 days). Within this time, researchers found that there was an abnormality within the patient’s lungs.
•February 17, 2020 Just a few days later, it was revealed that warmer weather and humidity might not affect the spread of COVID-19 like many had suggested. This posed a problem as, unlike the flu, a person is likely to contract the disease at any point and time of the year.
•February 24, 2020 With shocking speed, Moderna, one of the companies to later release a well-developed vaccine, sent a vaccine to phase 1 testing in the U.S.
•February 26, 2020 Novaxax announces possible candidate against the Coronavirus.
•March 16, 2020 Moderna vaccine testing begins.
•March 30, 2020 Johnson & Johnson announced a lead candidate for their version of the COVID-19 virus. The Janssen vaccine is not a mRNA vaccine but an adenovirus based vaccine.
•April 29, 2020 The first group for Phase I testing is injected with the Pfizer vaccine.
•May 15, 2020 The Trump administration announces ‘Operation Warp Speed.’ This is done to speed up the process of the vaccines currently being tested, which at the time were Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson.
•May 25, 2020 Novavax initiates the start of Phase 1/2 testing in Australia, for their NVX-CoV2373, protein-based vaccine.
•May 29, 2020 Moderna starts their evaluation of the vaccine in Phase II. They ran a placebo-controlled experiment to confirm the dose and evaluate the safety of the vaccine.
•May – July 2020 Seven pharmaceutical companies were approved into ‘Operation Warp Speed.’ These were: Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Moderna Inc., University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca Plc, and Novavax, Pfizer Inc. *Note: Pfizer was not initially involved but a deal was made for 100 million doses of their vaccine in mid-July*
•June 5, 2020 The BBC announced for AstraZeneca that they will begin producing potential Covid vaccines. Around this time, AstraZeneca’s vaccine also passed to Phase I. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is not an mRNA vaccine but instead a double-stranded DNA vaccination rather than a single-stranded mRNA. The vaccine is called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or AZD1222.
•July 27, 2020 Moderna begins Phase III testing of their mRNA-1273 vaccine. On this day, Pfizer also chose their lead mRNA vaccine to advance into Phase II.
•August 24, 2020 Novavax advances to Phase II of Phase 1/2 clinical trial of their NVX-CoV2373 vaccine.
•August 31, 2020 AstraZeneca’s advances to Phase III clinical trials in the U.S. for all adult groups.
•September 2, 2020 AstraZeneca temporarily pauses clinical trials of their Covid-19 vaccine, AZD1222, due to an unexplained illness that occured in the UK during their Phase III testing there. The clinical trials have to be stopped to ensure the safety of all participants.
•November 8, 2020 Pfizer conducted their Phase III trail revealing an efficiency rate above 90%
•December 8, 2020 The first person to receive the Pfizer vaccine is a 90-year-old woman in the United Kingdom.
•December 10, 2020 Pfizer publicized the results of the Phase III clinical trial. There were 43,448 participants, 21,720 of which received BNT162b2, the vaccine, and 21,728 received a placebo, using the two-dose regimen of BNT162b2, which was given 21 days apart. This demonstrated the vaccine to be 95% effective against COVID-19.
•December 11, 2020 The U.S. FDA approved the first Covid vaccine for emergency use in the U.S., the Pfizer vaccine.
•December 18, 2020 The FDA approved the Moderna vaccine to be the second vaccine approved for emergency use in the U.S.
•December 20, 2020 The U.K. authorized the use of the AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine.
•December 28, 2020 Novavax announces the start of their PREVENT-19 Phase III trial in the U.S. and Mexico.
•January 8, 2021 A Pfizer press release announced that their Covid-19 vaccine is effective against the multiple mutations recently discovered.
•January 28, 2021 In a press release by Novavax, they stated that in their Phase III trials in the UK proved their vaccine is 89.3% effective against Covid-19. (This test was conducted against the new variant in the UK as well as during a time of high infectious rate, meaning they are looking to create a strong vaccine to stop the multiple mutations of Covid-19, including the one in South Africa.)
•February 3, 2021 AstraZeneca announces that their vaccine is 100% effective against severe cases of Covid-19, making it likely the most effective vaccine to be released.*
*Note: this is only against severe cases, hospitalizations, and death; it is still likely to get coronavirus but the likelihood of being hospitalized is very slim from these results.
•February 4, 2021 Johnson & Johnson requested emergency authorization from the FDA for their COVID-19, vaccine which has been found to be 72% effective, less than both Moderna and Pfizer but large nonetheless for such a short period of time. The J&J vaccine was also able to test against the new variant of the virus present in the U.S., South Africa and Latin America at this time.
•February 7, 2021 Africa suspends the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to minimal protection it provided for the variant identified there.
For more constant updates on new vaccines and other vaccines not listed above check out the New York Times Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker which is updated constantly. They also do a great job in breaking down all the vaccines and their purposes.
For all of us, the goal should be to get vaccinated and reach herd immunity in order for this pandemic to be over. According to experts, 85% of Americans need to be vaccinated in order for this to happen. As of February 8, 4,746,539 vaccine doses have been given out. About 40 million people live in California, and of these, only 9.6% have received the vaccine.
Here’s a round-up of more vaccine news:
Health-care workers were first on the list for these vaccines, along with long-term care facility residents.
On January 13, Governor Newsom announced accessibility to those 65 and older.
Newsom also announced major vaccination sites like Dodger Stadium, Disneyland, CalExpo, PETCO Park in San Diego, and more.
On January 25, it was announced that the next phase will be giving accessibility to age-based groups.
As of the first week of February, L.A. County has received 1.2 million doses, and 89% of those have already been used. 184,000 doses were received last week, too. Many of those were saved as a second dose. 218,000 doses are expected to be received this week and more than half of those are going towards the second-dose vaccine. In L.A. County, as of February 8, only those aged 65+, health care workers and residents/staff at long-term care facilities are eligible for the COVID vaccine. Those eligible can make appointments through this link: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/ncorona2019/vaccine/hcwsignup/
In L.A. County, starting on February 16, those in need of the second dose were able to obtain it at Pomona Fairplex, the Forum, Six Flags Magic Mountain, The Los Angeles County Office of Education in Downey, Cal State University Northridge, Balboa Sports Complex and El Sereno. Proof of the first dose will be needed in order to enter and get vaccinated.
On November 15, 2020 I woke up with a sore throat in the morning. I did not know how I got it, especially after not being sick for months. But something was not adding up. During this whole pandemic my family and I were always at home, still leaving us in shock to find that I got Covid.
After the first day, my second symptom was a runny nose which started on Monday. On that day, my nose hurt so bad when I would sneeze, my chest would hurt, and my nose was super red after blowing it with so much tissue. My trash can was full of tissues and that was the most that I have ever filled it up with. I had also lost my taste and smell and those were only Covid symptoms I got, but I would never have thought that it would be that.
The next day, I went to take a rapid Covid test. When you put the swab in your nose it is super uncomfortable; it didn’t hurt me, however it can hurt others because everyone is different. An hour later, the laboratory called my mom saying that I was positive for Covid-19. I was in shock that I got it and I honestly did not know where I got it from. I was not scared though, because you have to stay strong and keep a positive mindset.
So once I got my results, I ate and then went to my room for the rest of the night and then started my quarantine the next day. My quarantine was hard because I’m not used to being in my room for 14 days and doing nothing but I made the best out of it. I did activities such as painting, playing board games, and vibing to music.
I thank God that we all got mild symptoms and my family members are healed. We are lucky that we did not get as sick because we did not get it as bad as other people have. I am very thankful that we are healed and we all got better. My parents had a trip to go to and they had to cancel it because they did not want to leave us alone while we were supposed to be at home. It was very hard for us, too, because we had to stay home during Thanksgiving, but we made the best out of it.
It was also hard because some of my other family members were also affected with the virus, including my parents. But let me tell you this–if you are affected by the virus, make sure you take a lot of Vitamin C and teas with lemon and honey. These natural home remedies helped me a lot throughout the two weeks that I was home. After one week, my smell started to come back but my taste buds are still not 100% there, but I know it will come back soon.
If you have been affected by Covid-19, please stay home and away from others and quarantine yourself until you start to feel better again. If you think that Covid is not real, it IS, because my family, and I all experienced it firsthand.