🏠😷🦠 Life As A QuaranTEEN 🦠😷🏠 The UnifiEd Student Voice Team Blog Surrounding COVID-19
Sophie: Maddie Kuhar says it best, “Both the Hamilton County Health Department (HCHD) and the Hamilton County Schools (HCS) routinely track the spread of the virus within the community, yet their...
opinions on viral risk are at odds.” She mentions that although we’re in phase three of the reopening plan for schools, which “requires minimal risk and minimal mitigation,” the HCHD states that “We are in a state of active or imminent outbreak.” This is an alarming fact considering I attend school in person.
The fact of the matter is, transparency is especially crucial during these times as students, parents, and teachers are unsure of their safety. Looking at these case numbers on paper could be deceiving because technically, according to HCS, students and faculty are at “minimal risk.” However, when you add context to these statistics, as Mrs. Kuhar did by contrasting HCS’s interpretation with the HCHD interpretation, then you can begin to see a greater picture. Suppose you add that these numbers are taken over a five-day average (instead of the original daily average), and the health department still deems these numbers incomplete. In that case, you can begin to understand why these numbers and board rulings can be misleading. There is an effort of communication from the board to the people of Hamilton County, as seen by their frequent updates and social media streams. However, constant communication is useless if the context of a situation is left out. If someone told you it was safe to swim at a beach, but there was a low risk of getting bitten by a shark, you may deem it safe enough to swim anyway. What would happen if there were swarms of sharks in the area you were swimming in and the person who told you that you had a low risk knew of these shark swarms and didn’t say anything? You would feel deceived, frustrated, even frightened because you put yourself at more of a risk than you realized, all because some vital context was left out from your conversation. That is how I feel as a student right now.
Carson: I chose to become an HCS-at-home student in August and again in November due to the risk of COVID-19 spread in our schools and the risk that it poses to my family specifically. I have always been inclined to mathematics, so when I began to see the dramatic increase of statistical approaches to COVID-19, I was intrigued. We all know by now that COVID is a new type of infection, so we are continually learning more about it. This means that we are constantly receiving new statistics and investigations about it, frequently without the vital context or background knowledge needed to digest the information properly.
One of the classes that I take at school as a part of the IB Program at Signal Mountain is called Theory of Knowledge. We are currently working on our summative essay for the class for our IB exams. One of the prompts that we were given was to examine the claim that “statistics conceal as much as they reveal”. This claim is especially relevant to consider right now as we see the increased reliance on statistics that aren’t given context. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, there was an elevated death rate for the virus because most of the populations that had become infected were high-risk populations. Now, we are often seeing people cite the low death rate of the disease as a reason that we shouldn’t be afraid of the virus, shouldn’t social distance, or even do basic things like wearing a face mask.
However, there is so much more that can happen from this virus than you dying. The long term complications of COVID-19 are still unknown, but many people are already reporting things like brain fog, difficulty breathing, and PTSD as sustained complications. However, there’s also the risk of you passing the disease onto someone else who could die of the virus. The statistics and measures that we are taking against the virus aren't just for ourselves; they’re for each other. It’s just like how we don’t pay taxes into the education system exclusively for our children’s education; we pay into the education system to better educate society as a whole.