On Thursday, October 21st, I woke up with a sore throat, stuffy and congested nose, and overwhelming exhaustion, and took a COVID test at home. The results were positive.
Honestly, I was somewhat nervous and scared, but after being extremely careful for the past year and a half, more than anything else I was frustrated.
A cold had been spreading through my grade, I assumed I had caught it when I began to be congested. Multiple people with the cold had tested themselves and confirmed it was not COVID. I tested myself on Wednesday night, which came back negative. I already felt better the following day, glad I wouldn’t have to stay home sick like one of my friends.
Though it felt unnecessary, my mom decided to test me again on Friday morning. I was thoroughly surprised when it came back positive. Where could I have got it from?
I immediately went into isolation, staying in my room for ten days. The unvaccinated people I had come into contact with had to quarantine for the same amount of time. I contacted all of my friends and teachers, telling them I had tested positive, as I knew school legally wasn’t allowed to.
During that time, I had a lot of time to think.
I felt irritated with my peers, some of whom consistently fail to wear their masks above their noses. I felt tired of people who crammed everyone they could into their social schedule, while myself and others were trying to minimize social contact outside of school.
My biggest frustration, however, was with the School District of Philadelphia. Since the school year started, I’ve tried to get tested through school multiple times, only to be told I wasn’t allowed to unless I was showing symptoms.
What could be done differently?
Since school is the most likely place students are going to contract Covid, Giving students access to the test is a start. Not everyone has access to rapid tests, and if it keeps the student body feeling safer, the school district should provide it. Asymptomatic cases are real — If I hadn’t tested myself that morning, I would have unknowingly gone to school with COVID, possibly spreading it to my peers, just like whoever I caught it from.
Enabling students to be tested when they want to (even if it would be limited) would decrease the threat of asymptomatic transmission.
If the school district went a step further and issued random tests of the student body, they could easily find asymptomatic breakthrough cases. This would in turn result in fewer students missing school since the rapid tests would catch the cases early and before more people are infected.
While I was highly fortunate for my case of COVID to be as mild as it was, not everyone has or will be that lucky. A few simple changes in the district’s testing policy would go a long way to preventing additional cases.