New Year, New Variant

How the outbreak of Omicron is causing a significant impact on Summit High School Staff and Students


Lily Hausler and Abby Toolan

Kicking off the New Year with a glass of champagne and a side of the Omicron variant. The week of Friday, January 7th there were 10,000 cases reported, OPB explainedis a record-breaking week for the state of Oregon. Due to this recent outbreak, Summit students and staff are facing various struggles. The omicron variant is less severe than previous illnesses caused by the variety of variants caused by COVID-19, and while some students and staff have had a very rough time with it, others don’t seem to be as affected. 

Along with trying to keep everyone’s spirits positive, the staff at Summit has had to bend over backward to make sure all missing students can stay caught up and continue to thrive in each class.

“I hope through all this we stay in school, because with the amount of students absent from this outbreak it is causing me so much more work and stress especially with the end of semester coming up,” said Travis Bean, a Summit science teacher. The staff is becoming worried about the best way to end the semester strong, with the challenge of providing the best resources to get students in quarantine caught up. 

“The biggest struggle I’ve faced through this new outbreak has been covid exhaustion, I’ve gotten so tired of it,” said Chris Kuka, a Summit teacher, “although I always have a lot of busywork to do, the omicron variant has definitely increased my workload. Mainly dealing with technology/canvas problems of kids who can’t come to school due to COVID-19.”

Although missing class is never worry-free, students have been facing the challenge of missing 10 days of school in different ways. While some students were smooth-sailing through quarantine, others felt crushed under the stress and the workload.

 “It wasn’t super easy to get caught up in my classes because I let a lot of work pile up and then had to do it all at once, and even now I’m still trying to cram everything in to finish before the end of the semester,” said sophomore Lyla Gilchrist. While missing days of school is affecting individuals in their own way, many students may take this opportunity to catch up on work while others let the work pile up.

Other students at Summit have had a different outlook on this new variant, the effect of being in quarantine for 10 days, and the amount of school work that was given. 

 “It was really annoying when I found out I had to be in quarantine for 10 days, however, it was pretty easy to stay caught up in my classes because some of my teachers excused me from work or it was easy to do at home,” said sophomore Kallon Booher. 

For some, being in quarantine was a break from the reality of school and they took the time to benefit from it. 

 “Although it was hard to keep distance from my friends and family, the schoolwork load wasn’t too bad and I didn’t mind having a break from school for a bit,” Oskar Bakker said, another Sophomore at Summit. Although this variant spreads very easily, people who have been testing positive don’t seem to be nearly as sick as the other variants such as the delta variant. 

“I was very surprised when I tested positive because I hadn’t been feeling sick at all,” Bakker said. The fact that the Omicron variant hasn’t been nearly as deadly as previous variants have certainly helped to take the stress off people’s shoulders as it turns rampant through our school.

“I wasn’t surprised when I found out I was exposed since the variant is all around us, however, I was definitely very sad to not see my friends and possibly be at risk for testing positive for COVID-19,” Gilchrist said. 

The omicron variant does not have as big of an effect on people’s physical health, although it can still greatly affect students’ mental health.

Numerous students are feeling the effect of not only the anxiety of missed schoolwork but the challenge of isolation and not being able to socialize. 

“The toughest challenge I faced was being bored and not being able to see my friends,” Booher said. 

Each student has a different perspective of the outbreak and the factors that come with it. However, with the pandemic trailing on for over 2 years the effect is still severe and causing mental health issues that are 

“I do want to say that the largest challenge I faced was feeling super isolated and unmotivated since I overall was feeling good but wasn’t allowed to do anything,” Gilchrist said. 

The spread of the variant will hopefully decline in the next few months, as long as our community takes the precautions provided. 

“If we continue to take precautions such as hand washing, mask-wearing and social distancing we should be able to stay in school and slow the spread of omicron,” said Elia Overcash, Summit’s teacher-librarian. Summit High School is taking these precautions and hoping it will slow the spread of the virus causing all this chaos and anxiety on staff and students to calm down and to start the second semester off to a good start.