Students Plan Walkout As Concerns Rise About Omicron in School


Hannah Jourdan

The Omicron variant continues to spread in school, and case numbers have risen significantly since the start of the second semester. Students have expressed concerns about the RRISD’s current safety protocols regarding the new variant.

Amid an unprecedented rise in COVID-19 cases after winter break, many parents and students have expressed concerns about the safety of returning to in-person school. While the Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD) School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) had planned to hold a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18 to address these concerns, the meeting was canceled after Acting Superintendent Dr. Daniel Presley sent an email on Friday, Jan. 14 announcing that the district will continue their current safety measures. In response, RRISD students have planned a walkout on Thursday, Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. to protest the unsatisfactory protocols.

The anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 situation can be attributed to the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant, which first appeared in Texas on Monday, Dec. 6. The infection rate, which was exacerbated by holiday travel, hit a record high of one million cases on Tuesday, Jan. 4. 

With roughly 6,000 current cases of Covid-19 in Travis County alone, some students have become wary of returning to school and would prefer staying protected from infection. 

“The past few weeks before the break, I got more comfortable [taking my mask off], especially with band, where we have to take our masks off to play,” Sofia Siegel ‘23 said. “I’ve become a lot more careful again now.”

Several students feel as though the best option to stay protected is returning to virtual school. 

“I prefer interacting with people in-person,” Aimee Wang ‘24 said. “But, I think [virtual school] would be good to prevent the spread, especially because there are some people who decide not to wear masks at our school, and it jeopardizes [other people].” 

Others believe that while protective measures, like social distancing, should be enforced, returning to virtual school isn’t a necessary precaution to stay safe. 

“I feel like we do have to take a step to be more cautious,” Ananya Swaminathan ‘25 said. “We don’t have to go to exactly the way we were before, but still we should be more careful.”

As the district continues to use the safety measures that were previously aligned in response to the rising number of cases district-wide, students have decided to speak out and advocate for change. For more information about RRISD’s current safety measures, visit this website.