Masks, What's the Big Deal?

By: Nicki Richardson

 

Back in March of 2020, we believed that the Coronavirus would be over in just a few months and that we all just got a little bit extra added on to our spring break. A few weeks after that, it was officially announced as a global pandemic and the entire world was put on lockdown. Businesses were shut down, schools were closed for the rest of the year, people began being laid off from their jobs. It was advised for people to wear masks not only to protect themselves but to protect those around them to help slow the spread of the virus. In many parts of the world, it only took a few months before COVID cases had dropped and began to have a decline in lockdown procedures as they slowly opened back up.

Flash forward to October, eight months after all of this began, the United States is still under a partial lockdown, riots have happened over people refusing to wear masks in public, and even the leader of our country, who refused to wear a facial covering on multiple occasions, has had a positive test result for this virus that could of possibly only lasted a few months. Masks have seemed to be made political as many people doubt their effectiveness, even as the top health officials have been practically begging people to wear them. 

Why do some people still refuse to wear masks, even when numbers show that people are still getting infected and dying from this disease? According to experts, when masks are worn correctly, it helps to reduce viral transmission by 70%. By wearing correctly, it is meant that you are sanitizing or washing your hands before putting them on, and making sure that they cover your nose and mouth fully. Wearing a mask does not only protect yourself but protects those around you who may be more at risk than others. 

It is important to know the right times to wear a facial covering when you are out and about in public. If you are with people who you live with and are able to socially distance in an area such as a park, then you could take off your mask and enjoy the fresh air. If you are in a crowded grocery store or area where you can not distance yourself from people, masks need to be worn. It is selfish to not wear a mask, or wear it incorrectly with your nose outside of it because you are risking not only yourself but everyone around you. 

Photo by: Xavier Donat

The Outsized Effects of Minority Rule

By: Susanna Conway

Photo by: The White House

If the Senate moves forward with confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the long-term consequences could be disastrous for a country built on principles of fairness and equity. Throughout his four years in office, President Donald Trump has successfully appointed two Supreme Court Justices, and following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has now been given the chance to appoint a third. His recent nomination of Amy Coney Barrett has raised many questions regarding the fairness of the nomination process, and whether or not the Court should wait until after the upcoming election to appoint a new justice. 

So what will it mean for the American people if Amy Coney Barrett gets appointed to the Supreme Court? Just like the Senate, the courts’ 6-3 Republican majority is likely to implement policies that inaccurately represent the views of the American population. For example, Judge Barrett, along with many other Republican members of the Supreme Court, has openly spoken out against the legality of abortion. Her appointment could make it possible for the court to overturn the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, which would restrict a woman’s right to chose abortion. Although recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans support the legalization of abortion, a Republican-controlled court could easily strike down state laws and give the government even greater control over women’s bodies. In addition, the rights of LGBTQ individuals could be at risk under this court, for many of its members have supported Trump’s homophobic and transphobic policies, including the banning of transgender individuals from the military. 

Because of the unfair process by which a Supreme Court justice is appointed, it is likely that Justice Barrett will be granted a smooth entry into the federal government. Unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate, which is responsible for the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominees, is made up of two senators from each of the 50 states. This means that states with smaller populations receive equal representation to those with larger populations, which can lead to decisions that display an inaccurate representation of the views of the American population. Although Democrats make up a larger portion of United States citizens, there are a greater number of states that possess a Republican majority, allowing a greater number of Senate seats to be filled by Republicans. Because of this Republican-favoring structure, the Senate has been able to stage Supreme Court confirmation hearings in their favor. In addition, the Electoral College, which is the very reason that President Trump got elected in the first place, tends to favor the Republican party as well. In the 2016 election, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton received over 3 million more votes than Mr. Trump, but because the electoral college is designed to give smaller states a larger representation, Donald Trump was able to claim the Presidential victory. 

Amy Coney Barret’s nomination would not only put the rights of Americans at risk but also completely contradict the actions of Senate Republicans four years ago. In January of 2016, the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia prompted former President Obama former President Barack Obama to nominate Merrick Garland, a respectable lawyer, and judge, to serve as Scalia’s replacement. Because of their unfair Republican majority, the Senate was able to turn down Garland’s nomination, with the stated reasoning of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell being that the nomination took place too close to a Presidential election. This was nine months before the 2016 election, and although Barrett’s nomination is just one month short of the 2020 election, McConnell and other Senate Republicans appear to have no problem showing their full support for this controversial appointment. 

 
 

The Best Parts of Distance Learning 

By: Aniesa Vasquez

Despite the constant fires, COVID-19, and the major fear of everything, 2020 is slowly coming to an end and we are very thankful for that. But, with COVID cases still spiking and dropping, we have no idea when or if we will be able to return back to school. So, in order to shed light on the situation, I’ve decided to write about the positives of distance learning and how I believe that distance learning, in reality, is a lot better than regular school. 

To start, what could be better than rolling out of bed and opening your laptop as your way to go to school? Nothing! Compared to what we had to do previously before COVID-19, waking up as soon as your class starts seems like the best of both worlds. You don’t have to wake up hours before school starts to get ready, instead, you can just walk from your bed to your laptop in a good ten seconds. 

Distance learning allows you to be able to work at your own pace, without the pressure of time and overall noisy environment. You aren’t forced to learn within that zoom period of your class. You can take your time on your work and email your teachers if you have any questions or concerns. It’s extremely similar to how we work in a classroom setting but better! You can use your asynchronous time to learn more about the parts of the work you don’t understand while still having enough time to finish the work assigned. In a survey completed by the Easttown school District, around 72% of students felt as though the amount of school work they were getting was appropriate. 

Some students against distance learning tend to feel like the workload given is way more than it would be if we were in the classroom. However, this is actually not the case. Since we are limited in synchronous time, there is some work that still needs to be done to make up for all of the work that we get in a regular school environment, which is why the workload may feel more than usual. 

From distance learning, students can also learn to become more independent by having to better manage their own schedule. This can benefit you later on down the road and teach you important skills that you may have to use in the future. You now have the responsibility of motivating yourself to get up and attend your classes, which is a lot more responsibility than some students may have had previously. But, it’s important to self motivate and build the organization skills to maintain a constant and sturdy schedule. 

Overall, we spend less time in synchronous time than we would regularly in the classroom. This allows you to work at your own pace and still have extra time for extra activities. Distance learning may be hard, but if you make an attempt to look at it with a more positive attitude, then it may not be as bad as you think! 

Photo by: ViewSonic.com

 

Start HHS Sports

By: Graham MacDonald

Photo by: mvongrue

School sports are one of the best ways to build friendships and a sense of community within our school. We already have to do distance learning, which has led to a huge decline in student-to-student interaction. School sports can help fix this problem. I think that with proper Covid-19 protocols, we could have a safe functioning sports season. 

 

The decision to play should be left up to the student-athletes, coaches, and their families who are involved with the sport. If those three groups all want to play and sign a waiver then they should be able to play. To lessen the risk of the spread of Covid-19, teams should do their best to isolate themselves and create a bubble with their team. To ensure the safety of the players, before each practice and game players should get their temperatures checked and masks should be worn by everyone that is not playing the game. These and other precautions can drastically reduce the spread of Covid-19.

 

Healdsburg High School’s sports and indoor sports in general are being put at a disadvantage. Many private schools, like Cardinal Newman, have fully started practicing for almost all sports. The fact that our school won’t allow any indoor sports team’s into the gyms is going to put us at a huge disadvantage when we end up coming face to face against these private schools. 

 

The lack of high school organized sports has led some to go to club teams. Full-on games and tournaments are happening across the state with little issue. These students play because they want college exposure. Many kids across the country don’t have the money to pay for college or academic prowess to get academic scholarships. Some are born with great athleticism and their only way to get into college is through getting a sports scholarship. If schools chose to cancel or even shorten sports seasons it dashes the already small chance of these students to get athletic scholarships. 

 

It is a pretty simple decision for me. If the people involved fully understand the risk and are willing to take them, what right does anyone have to stop them? Many committed student-athletes are ready and willing to play but they are being held back by the school district and the state. If the correct Covid-19 precautions are kept and not violated throughout the season I think there would be little cause for concern. 

 

End HHS sports

By: Emma Hernandez

Photo by: popo.uw23

Yes, Yes, I’m aware that students are hyped up and ready to play sports this season, but do they really know the risks? As everyone knows by now we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and that is exactly why high school sports shouldn’t be in session. After Covid-19 dies down a bit I’m certain students will be more eager than ever to play sports again, but we have to remember that cases could still spike considering the upcoming holidays. By starting the sports season, students would be at risk, and HHS may not be able to meet all Covid-19 protocol requirements. 

Since January 22, when the first Covid-19 case was confirmed, our world has been sworn to a life of masks and hand sanitizers. It is excusable to allow some sports to happen, like golf and tennis, because social distancing will allow safe participation. However, it isn't physically possible for social distance when playing football or basketball. Those sports are both based on teams having to be closer than six feet from each other. I’m afraid that letting certain sports occur and others not, will enrage students, resulting in a lot of unhappy student-athletes, which is why starting any sports wouldn’t be the right decision. 

The opposing argument would say something along the lines of, “if a student is aware of the risk and is willing to play under the circumstances our school should let them play.” The thing is, I doubt students deeply understand the cause and effects of the virus. It may not seem like such a big deal since athletes are young and typically have minimal health problems, but the effect Covid-19 has on us stretches so much further than just ourselves. For example, once you are exposed, you may be asymptomatic. You wouldn’t think that you are sick if you don’t show signs, but you can spread it without knowing. Imagine you play in a game, you hang out with your teammates and friends, and in a week their parents are sick. We cannot be certain that taking precautions while playing sports will help to slow the pandemic. Leading to the simple solution of just canceling sports until Covid-19 is over. Postponing sports until the pandemic is over is the only way to ensure everyone's safety throughout the school year. 

SAT/ACT; The Unfair System

 By: Charles Sommer

Photo by: CollegeDegrees360

Every year that goes by, It’s another highschool class’s responsibility to study for the SAT and the ACT. Whether you believe standardized testing is a fair assessment and gauge on college readiness, arguing that it should still be accepted during the pandemic is wrong. Not only is it unfair to the students unable to take the test, but also to those cramming years of studying for a test that may or may not occur. Students are deserving of respect from colleges and universities, more than what is being conveyed. 

 

 The New York Post reports that students are flying all over the country to take the SAT due to site closures. This is an unfair advantage because lower-income students may not have the resources to fly or drive across the country to take the test. Judge Seligman ruled early in September that UC’s test-optional policy “unfairly disadvantaged disabled applicants because they lacked access to testing centers with accommodations during the Covid-19 pandemic”. The vast majority of colleges are going test-optional this year, but test-optional does not mean test blind. Am I arguing that all schools should be tested blind? No. But should all public schools test blind? Indubitably. If you cannot give every student a plane ticket to take the SAT, then it should not be required at schools, especially with mass site closures, as seen in California. 

 

Schools like Yale and Harvard, are going to have applicants that aced the SAT as a freshman so there's no need to try and influence their application process, and private schools have the option to do whatever they want. It is clear, however, that there should be a precedent set by this monumental court ruling that all public schools should be tested blind. Students with health concerns and students unable to take the test due to cancellations even though they are willing to put the health of themselves, family members, and whoever else they see through the pandemic should have a moral obligation from the colleges stating that they have the students best interests in mind. Would you, a student be willing to put the health of yourself, your family, and your immediate friends on the line for a test? This standard that is being set is unfair and students shouldn't be in this position.

 

The fact that a court judge had to put the colleges in their place is pathetic and never should have occurred. Students should have the level of effort they put into getting into a college reciprocated in not only scholarships but most importantly cancellation of the SAT in the application process. A fair playing field should be set up, and what it comes down to is if these schools will set up a fair system or if they will continue to allow unfair application processes and college scandals to haunt them. 

Trump’s Shocking Tax Records

By: Gabriel Rodriguez

Photo by: Philip Taylor PT

Many people might have heard of Trump’s tax records, over the past 18 years that were examined, 11 of them had no federal income taxes paid. The year after he became president, he paid $750 in taxes. It is startling that our president cannot be held to the same standard as every other president we have had. 

Every president before has paid their federal income taxes. Obama and George W. Bush both paid $100,000 in income taxes every year and would pay even more sometimes. It begs the question, why should our president now get away with doing this when everyone else has to pay their taxes?

The president of The United States of America should be held to the same standard as citizens at the bare minimum regarding taxes and should be a good example for the American people. They are supposed to be a good role model for the citizens. Presidents impact the lives of Americans greatly and set a precedent for future presidents. 

The fact that the role model for Americans did not pay his taxes for 11 of 18 years and asked the Supreme Court to stop a subpoena to release his tax records is startling. Especially when the citizens have to pay their taxes every year. We all will have to pay our taxes in the future and our parents now pay taxes. 

Donald Trump gets away with this because he classifies much of his spending on personal lifestyle as the cost of business. Nearly 20% of all of his businesses have 20% of the income used for consultation fees. Trump’s private records show that his company paid $747,622 to an unknown consultant for the hotel projects. Ivanka Trump received an identical amount through a consulting company in which she co-owned which was found out due to Ivanka Trump’s public disclosure forms. 

All this says a lot about the ways that he operates his businesses. In fact, many of the highest-profile Trump businesses lose large amounts of money. The Washington hotel that Trump opened up has lost more than $55 million. You might be asking now, where does he get his money?

The answer to that question is Trump gets most of his money from his brand. He markets his image and firms pay for the right to use his name. This led to the show called “The Apprentice” which helped elevate his brand. Even then, by 2015, the money made from the show began to decline and Trump hasn’t seemed to pay any of the principles of the mortgage on Trump Tower.

 $100 million is due by 2022 and his financial records indicate that he only has around $873,000 to spend. Trump is not the ruthless, successful businessman that he markets himself as. He is far from it as he is running out of money and is trying to get out of paying taxes. His campaign for presidency served to increase his brand and his presidency helped his business as politicians, lobbyists, and foreign officials join his clubs or stay at his properties.

People should care about what he has done and should hold him accountable for his actions. Presidents should be held to a higher standard as they are role models for the American people. All of us will have to pay taxes in the future and our parents now are paying taxes. 

To make a change, the best thing we can do is to inform the people that you know about what Donald Trump has done. Get people to be informed about whom they are voting for as many people may not even care at all and don’t vote or don’t know whom they are voting for due to them being misinformed. We should combat the misinformed with information about whom they are voting for as the president of the United States of America.

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