By Joshua Hori ’24
Principal Mr. Bob Ryan published a new document with the COVID-19 policies for this year on August 10. New major changes, such as masks and vaccination mandates, have been received with both praise and controversy by students and parents alike.
A major controversy between parents and the Brophy faculty about Brophy’s new COVID-19 guidelines occurred when an accumulation of arguments against the policies, and a “campaign of disinformation,” according to Mr. Ryan, was launched over the last few weeks prior to Sept. 8.
One of the arguments against Brophy’s policies was an opinion piece written for AZCentral by Brophy parent Ms. Donna Walkosz. In this OpEd, Ms. Walkosz discusses why she thinks Brophy’s policies are unfair.
She makes arguments that vaccinations shouldn’t be required for healthy boys. “COVID-19 is largely a disease impacting older and unhealthy people. Younger and healthier Americans are far less likely to develop serious illness, hospitalization, or death,” wrote Ms. Walkosz.
Another main argument that Ms. Walkosz makes is about parental choice, in which she says, “We parents simply have the best interests of our sons at heart. We should make medical decisions for our children.”
Many students also feel this way about the new COVID Policies. “I hate them because they are unfair towards unvaccinated students . . . especially since they don’t have the option of online learning,” said sophomore Ransom Kaul ’24, arguing against the Brophy COVID policies, especially the fact that unvaccinated students cannot go on Brophy’s overnight trips and retreats, as well as online learning.
In response to these arguments, President Ms. Adria Reinke and Mr. Ryan released an opinion piece on AZCentral responding to the opposition. Referring to the frustration emitted by the introduction of new COVID Policies, they said in their opinion statement, “We acknowledge the confusion surrounding us. We recognize there are parents with legitimate concerns and we are here to participate in respectful dialogue. But we will not be bullied to accept a list of demands that are untethered to real science or rational thought”.
Mr. Ryan and Ms. Reinke also reaffirmed Brophy’s regulations in the same statement, saying, “Our policy is framed by science, medicine, and logic and includes input and monitoring by some of the best medical experts in our state”.
These arguments come as a result of the new COVID Policies for this year. These policies have shifted from last year, due to the new research about the virus, a new deadly strain of COVID-19 and the introduction of vaccines. These guideline changes come with the introduction of new rules and regulations set by the Center for Disease Control, as well as the Arizona Department of Health Services.
This controversy was mostly caused by major changes, such as masks, as well as the new vaccination mandate.
This year, masks are required inside but optional indoors, which is scheduled to end on October 8, postponed from the previous date of Sept. 13, as a result of concurrently high transmission rates.
Many students are tired of wearing masks, including Krish Patel ’24, who said, “I just want my mask off”. However, other students, such as Nico Mendoza ’22, don’t understand the reason why people can’t just wear masks, saying, “Just wear a mask bro, it’s not that hard.”
Vaccinations are another main cause of this controversy, as they are mandated this year. As of today, Brophy policy states that students have to be vaccinated or have twice weekly COVID testing.
However, Brophy has been implementing, a new COVID pooled testing system, a free, quick on-campus testing program, where tests are put into “pools” and tested at once. While this option is accessible for most students, they may still choose to test outside of campus.
With these new COVID policies comes a new experience from last year. For example, many opportunities such as online learning, are not available this year. Other opportunities, such as attendance at overnight, off-campus school trips, have been limited to vaccinated students.
While these policies have caused controversy, many students still hope to remain on campus and continue this school year. “If we don’t want school to shut down again, we have to have it this way,” said Zach Etzioni ’23.