Editorial: Stay apart to come together

Students+act+selfishly+when+they+don%27t+follow+COVID-19+safety+guidelines+at+indoor+gatherings%2C+jeopardizing+not+only+their+health+and+that+of+their+peers%2C+but+also+activities+and+in-person+learning.+Graphic+by+Theresa+Lee

Students act selfishly when they don’t follow COVID-19 safety guidelines at indoor gatherings, jeopardizing not only their health and that of their peers, but also activities and in-person learning. Graphic by Theresa Lee

Cowboy hats, glitzy dresses and lots of maskless smiles. On Oct. 17 and Oct. 18, students’ Instagram and Snapchat posts could have fooled anyone into believing it was a normal Homecoming weekend. Feeds were filled with photos of students attending “foco” parties, or “fake Homecoming” parties. Eight days prior, on Oct. 9, in-person classes and activities at both Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South were suspended because a GBN second-shift staff member and a GBS student received a positive test for COVID-19. That afternoon, Principal Jason Markey sent the first in a string of emails over the following three weeks announcing COVID-19 cases among the GBN student population. Yet, students still chose to hold and attend maskless, non-socially-distanced parties, and did so yet again to celebrate Halloween.

After enduring over half a year of the pandemic, it’s understandable that students may be tired of following COVID-19 safety measures. For many, attending school events such as Homecoming is a large part of the high school experience, and we understand students still want to make these memories. We are all mourning the loss of a regular school year.

However, the students who choose to socialize in reckless, irresponsible ways — in each other’s homes, without masks, without distancing — are jeopardizing not only their health and that of others, but also the activities and the sense of normalcy that GBN has offered us despite the current circumstances.

The opportunity to congregate in an organized setting — to play football, put on a play or attend dance practice — has become a privilege in the midst of the pandemic. But this privilege is already being taken away, and activities will be under constant threat of cancellation if students continue their careless and selfish behavior. Your night out could compromise weeks of an entire team’s season — some sports have already had to suspend their season or cancel contact days due to COVID-19 cases on the team. With the predicted increase of COVID-19 cases as the weather gets colder, we have even more responsibility to be vigilant and follow safety guidelines.

Beyond protecting your health, following safety guidelines is about respect. Attending parties or other social gatherings without masks suggests you value your own entertainment over other people’s well-being. Those cozy selfies on Snapchat stories are broadcasted messages of your disrespect for your classmates, community members and all who have worked to provide you the opportunity to return to school. Those maskless photos on Instagram aren’t cute. They’re selfish. 

You don’t have to cut yourself off from the world in order to be safe and protect what you love. If you want to spend time with a large group of people, organize a Zoom call. If you want to go out with friends, wear masks and practice social distancing. As we move further into the school year, it’s essential that we as a community are respectful to each other and take the necessary precautions to keep ourselves and the people around us safe. 

The rest of the year is on the line, and it’s up to you to determine what it will look like.