Paused at South Lakes


Photo via IZUSEK/Getty Images

Emmalina Sjapeki, Staff Writer

In-person school resumed this fall with COVID-19 protocols in place, but students are still being sent home from the virus or from being in contact with those who have it. New processes have been introduced to limit the time students spend outside of school, but the transition back to in person education has been clunky. Both teachers and students alike are dealing with the confusing and stressful details of being back together in the midst of a pandemic.

Students are put on pause when they have a potential close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Additionally, students are displaced from school if they test positive for COVID-19. New paused procedures mean that vaccinated students will typically remain on pause for only 24 to 72 hours while their vaccination information and health survey is being verified by the Fairfax County Health Department. However, the old pause procedure meant that students had to stay out of school for two weeks (or 10 school days) regardless of vaccination status. This led to a lot of confused parents, students, and teachers.

“It was very hard in the beginning because we didn’t know who was paused and who wasn’t, so we didn’t know how long they would be out and what it meant for us… like if we had to get tested, since the term ‘paused’ was very new,” South Lakes math teacher Mr. Millar said.

While outside of school, paused students were expected to complete assignments on Schoology. It could be difficult for students to keep up, especially with a new online system and little instruction on what to do. 

“They told us to post stuff on Schoology, but if you’re out of school for 10 days it’s kind of hard to teach yourself. It’s definitely hard for [students] to keep up even though technically they’re supposed to,” Mr. Millar continued.

“It’s a challenge anytime students are absent,” English teacher Mrs. Satterfield commented.

Another issue was missing out on extracurricular activities, particularly in the beginning of the school year when fall sports are in full swing.

Photo via Charlie Riedel/AP Photo

“I felt a little anxious because I really wanted to get back to football. I wasn’t really stressed out about school because it was the beginning of the year, and it was easy to catch up… but my main priority was just getting back so I could play football,” senior student athlete Mason Miles said. He was paused for 6 days.

So how has being paused affected the way students act now? Aside from continuing to wear a mask and being more cautious with interactions, students prepare for the possibility of being pulled out again.

“I try to keep my stuff in my house more instead of being like, ‘Oh I can leave it at school because I’ll be back.’ because now I don’t know if I will be back,” senior Bryn Goldstein remarked. She’d been paused for 3 days.

Being paused can be a stressful experience since students have to worry about missing school and a possible exposure to COVID-19. However, the best way to avoid this problem is to get vaccinated, thereby lessening the amount of time students will spend out of school even if they do get paused. Students should also keep wearing a mask in school, above the nose. This school year is pretty close to being back to normal, but we’ll get there faster if everyone follows the pandemic protocols.