COVID and sickness on the rise at LHS

“Tripledemic” causing increased absences around LHS


Eliza Naumann

Covid tests are available in the nurse’s office.

By Jonas Lord, Managing Editor

The height of the COVID pandemic may be in the rearview mirror, but remnants of it still linger at LHS, which is experiencing a slight but sudden rise in cases.

These COVID cases are part of an overall rise in sickness known as the “tripledemic.” This trifecta of sickness is a collision of COVID, flu, and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) and can be felt nationwide, especially during the holidays.

“We’re back inside more and there are more activities so everybody just gets together and spreads it more,” school nurse Carol Casteel said.

Casteel has noticed an uptick in visits to the nurse’s office, noticing the presence of various cold and flu symptoms.

“It’s just been a little bit busier but it’s mostly flu and sore throats, and general cough, so we have been doing a few more tests,” she said.

COVID cases in the “tripledemic” have been particularly difficult for Casteel to track because of less strict district policies.

“Because people don’t have to report the COVID, we know we’re not getting all the cases,” she said. “I know we have more than three students or more than two staff members.”

Current substitute shortages are also directly linked to this “tripledemic,” forcing administration and teachers to sit in on classes.

“We’ll go in and cover a class to make sure that we alleviate some of the pressures that are on teachers,” principal Jessica Bassett said.

The lack of subs has made Bassett’s job a little more challenging.

“As of late it’s been harder and harder because we have more and more teachers who are out due to multiple reasons,” she said. “It could be sickness, it could be personal, could be any sort of things.” 

According to Bassett, the number of teachers absent fluctuates daily, further complicating matters.

“We’ll have some days where we have as few as one or two teachers that are out and then we’ll have those days where we can have fifteen to seventeen teachers out so it really varies,” she said.

Bassett has also been seeing the number of students fluctuating similarly.

“It could easily be over fifty to seventy-five students out each day based off the number of calls we get,” she said.

School athletics have also been forced to adjust to the sudden uptick in sickness.

“Back in the day, it used to be, you got a cough, you can work through it,” athletic director Mike Gillman said. “Now, it’s, you got a cough, stay home, so that’s impacted the practices. It’s impacted the games. It’s impacted different things along the way.”

Gillman’s focus is now primarily on health and safety matters.

“We have to reassure our coaches and make sure that we’re doing the right thing,” he said. “We do our due diligence by keeping the balls clean, keeping our hands clean and everything else that we can do.”

But, bolstered by previous COVID experience and access to more resources, administrators like Gillman feel more prepared to take on this threat.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be vaccinated and being able to go forward,” he said. “I haven’t missed a day of work because of COVID so I’ve been very blessed and very fortunate. Others have not so we really want to make sure we control this and make sure that we’re doing the right thing and keeping everybody safe.”

Students and faculty can protect themselves from the “tripledemic” with a few familiar methods. Wearing masks, self-care, and vaccination are all recommended, along with an emphasis on education.

“Educate, educate, so make sure you educate each other, make sure we understand what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and make sure that we pay attention to our own bodies,” Gillman said. “If you’re sick, go to a doctor, go get tested, do everything you can to be preventative so we don’t have a rise in this, and go back to an online learning system.”