Editorial: Masks on, saliva tests in

As the bell rings at the end of the school day and students leave their classrooms, some rush down the spiral staircase, saliva test bags in hand, to get to the drop-off boxes on time. Along the way, they encounter an array of mask menaces.

Naked-Nose Nancy stands at the top of the stairwell. Her mask rests below her nostrils, only covering her mouth. She doesn’t seem to notice the uncomfortable glances of other students who speed past her, desperately trying to avoid the particles coming out of her nose with each exhale.

Sneezy Sawyer makes his way down the stairs. He doesn’t like the wet feeling inside his mask after sneezing, so he has found an alternative that works for him — briefly pulling his mask down to sneeze, spraying droplets into his surroundings. 

A loud voice projects from a nearby classroom. Shouty Mr. Sheldon pulls his mask down to his chin, contaminating the atmosphere with his respiratory droplets, to make sure his students hear his final remarks on the day’s lesson as they walk out the door.

Students and faculty at Glenbrook North, some of you are Naked-Nose Nancy, Sneezy Sawyer and Shouty Mr. Sheldon. 

Many who encounter these mask menaces are uncomfortable but may not say anything. Some are afraid to come across as aggressive, while others don’t want to offend classmates, teachers or co-workers by identifying them as mask menaces. The authority of a teacher can also deter students from confrontation. 

Individuals in the building must pull their masks over their noses and keep them there in order to maintain a safe environment. Not doing so blatantly disrespects the efforts of all staff members who work hard to make in-person classes and extracurricular activities possible. To respect the time and efforts of those involved, students must also complete their saliva tests correctly and turn them in on time.

On occasion, students are spotted running to the athletic training room, having forgotten to submit their saliva tests on time. Panicked, they plead their case for the trainers to accept their late tests.

Requesting this of trainers after the deadline is unacceptable. It is unfair to delay trainers as the majority of their work occurs after the school day when sports practices and competitions begin.

Even when tests are on time, trainers are responsible for taking the tubes with saliva samples, even when discolored or filled with gunky food bits, out of every plastic bag each week. When students leave their straws in the bag, the interior becomes coated in saliva. Not only does this make it easier for a barcode sticker to slip off a tube, but this also means trainers must reach inside a saliva-lined bag.

In addition to discarding straws, students must follow directions given in the kit and place barcode stickers lengthwise on the tube so they can be easily scanned by trainers.

Think of others’ safety and time. Correctly observing safety measures is not only the right thing to do — it is expected of students and faculty to keep our community safe.