Green screens get the red light

RBUSD discontinues the use of mandatory green screens


Illustration by Allie D’Amato

Reopening schools in the middle of a pandemic requires many rules and regulations, and this school year has proved to be no different; masks are required indoors, and students are encouraged to keep a 3 foot distance from each other in the classroom. However, the once mandatory symptom-screening tool used in the 2020-21 school year has been eliminated for this coming school year.

Walking into registration for this school year, I filled out the symptom-screening tool used in the previous school year, and once I showed the guards my green screen, I was told that it was no longer required. In order to find an explanation, I decided to do some research.

After visiting the Beach Cities Health Department (BCHD) website, which previously included the link to the symptom-screening tool, I found out that as of Aug. 30, the old symptom-screening tool questions are now on a PDF; parents are encouraged to ask their children these questions before arrival to school. However, I continued to wonder: what prompted this change?

Conducting further research, I found that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) no longer required schools to screen students prior to entering campus, but it did encourage school districts to continue doing so, or develop a questionnaire that parents would conduct at home prior to school arrival. As a result, RBUSD decided to modify the screening process, as per Dr. Steven Keller’s letter on Aug. 13, 2021.

This information did clear up the reasoning as to why these screenings weren’t required anymore, but I still felt incredibly uninformed about this change. Even my parents, who are supposed to ask me these questions every day, were unaware.

This begs the question: is our district not being transparent enough with its students? Although parents, guardians, and staff did receive an email about this change on Aug. 13, students themselves were not very aware of it, and parents seem to be dismissing it as well. According to a High Tide Google Form, 80.6% of respondents’ parents do not ask them screening questions prior to school arrival.

While I do applaud the district for its hard work and dedication to keeping its students safe, it is important to notice the flaws as well, that way we can work towards keeping our students and staff even safer. With more communication among students, we can all work together to feel safer in these unprecedented times, especially with the now prominent delta variant.

The COVID-19 symptom-screening tool and process used by RBUSD in the 2020-21 school year did its part in preventing an outbreak at RUHS. However, we need to understand that there are many more students on campus this year compared to last year. This means that our regulations and safety precautions should be even stronger than last year.

By encouraging symptom-screening instead of mandating it, we are taking a step back in ensuring our students’ safety. Because our campus has 3,000 students currently, we should create more complex and robust screenings that will ensure every student who enters campus is healthy, without COVID-19 symptoms.

Every week, RUHS has more students that test positive for COVID-19; unfortunately, this is inevitable considering the time we are in. However, to keep things from getting worse, we must start implementing more mandates and regulations that are required, or else there is a high chance students and parents will ignore them.