On the way to school on Jan. 11, a student was yelled at by an OCPS parent from their car to “get that thing off your face” indicating that the mask debate still causes tensions within schools.

Coming back from winter break yielded an increase in COVID-19 positivity rates and despite the controversy, the adoption of new policies. 

“High coronavirus positivity rates are a problem in my opinion and cause a great amount of concern. In my own opinion the ideals of others, that being more conservative views, have caused damage and impact on the lives of others,” senior Alexis Torres said. 

The OCPS COVID-19 dashboard displayed 866 positive students and 309 teachers upon return from winter break, the highest reported case numbers since the beginning of the school year. 

With cases rising, Superintendent Barbra Jenkins required all employees in OCPS buildings and vehicles to wear masks. However, a state law prohibits her from requiring a mask mandate for students.

“I do not think masks should be mandated because it is up to everyone’s own choice with what they want to do with their own health and what precautions they feel are necessary to take,” junior Ava Albachiaro said.

Due to the increase, people are eager to get tested causing longer lines at COVID-19 testing sites.

With increasing COVID-19 cases, OCPS chose to host more vaccination events. Vaccinations will be offered on campus on Feb. 1 and throughout the month at different high schools throughout the county. Click this link for more information. 

“I’m a bit hesitant on the COVID-19 vaccine just because there are so many unknowns about it out there, but I respect everyone’s decision to get vaccinated or not get vaccinated,” Albachiaro said.

OCPS now allows students to receive excused absences when they contact the school informing them of the situation and the desire to stay home out of an abundance of caution. 

“I do think the excused absence was a good idea. It allows for students to not be persecuted for having any illness which may or may not be covid related therefore not putting other students at risk and allotting them no penalty for precaution,” Torres said.

The district continues to adapt in order to keep their staff and students safe, and information can be assessed on

By Emmy Bailey

Emmy Bailey is the Editor-in-Cheif of Hilights. She has been in it for three years and has a passion for journalism. In her other time, she enjoys participating in theatre and is Troupe 1139 secretary.

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