A New Pandemic is Developing: Indifference

The rapid increase of COVID prevalence and the spread of Omicron threaten the future of in-person schooling across the country.  

With the decrease in COVID cases at the beginning of the year, students looked forward to coming back to school in person despite additional rules and restrictions. Learning with masks and social distancing became the new normal, forcing staff and students to readapt. However, with the new variant Omicron becoming more contagious and the drastic rise in cases across the country, the new in-person learning environment is at stake. Many students, parents, and teachers fail to realize the gravity of this swell in cases; it may seem like the same pattern, but the consequences are far more serious.  

According to the New York Times, Omicron causes milder symptoms, making the illness less deadly especially with vaccine rates and boosters. However, the new CDC guidelines only recommend 5 days of quarantine with another 5 days of strict mask use, making the spread and exposure to the virus surge and causing a massive influx of hospital patients (CDC Updates). With increased staff shortages and a climbing number of employee infections, healthcare providers are struggling to offer treatments. Fewer beds are available, resulting in a number of hospitals across the country exceeding capacity (How To Survive an Omicron Winter). 

So why is this crisis met with apathy and indifference? 

Despite the surge in cases, restrictions and safety precautions have been widely dismissed. The beginning of the pandemic in early March of 2020 was met with vigilance; people across the nation quarantined and practiced individual cleanliness that protected the masses. This is vastly contrasted with the exhausted mindset of today.  

“The pandemic is being taken less seriously,” Woodbridge senior Anthony Villanueva-Torres said when asked about COVID concerns. “Lockdowns and restrictions have taken a toll on people’s health and they’re getting sick of it.” 

Students in schools have grown accustomed to the daily spike in cases and the number of students missing from their classes.  

“I had COVID over break,” Woodbridge SALC Captain Adina Hudisteanu said in an interview. “I also know many students got sick during the holidays but did not react as badly as before. People should still wear masks to protect in-person schooling, but I know that the sheer number of people who got it has made students desensitized.” 

Their indifference does not mean there isn’t concern, however.  

In a poll of Woodbridge students, 67.6% believe that more regulation needs to be in place to prevent the spread of Omicron. 75.7% said their concern has changed since the beginning of the pandemic, and 67.7% of these students said that they are more concerned now then at the start. Many students expressed their enhanced feelings of loneliness, exhaustion, anxiety as an outcome of the new variants and lack of stricter guidelines.  

The growing apathy and carelessness of our nation is cause for concern. The desire to return to normal is natural, but to achieve this everyone must do their part to keep each other safe. The threat is real, and despite the constant progress, it is important to remain vigilant for the sake of the unprotected, the vulnerable, and the nation.