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As of Monday, April 4, La Joya ISD removed its mask mandate. Instead, they “highly recommend” the use of face coverings for all students, employees, and visitors in high traffic areas such as hallways or school buses.
Since then, many students have reported seeing their peers and teachers stop wearing their masks, as well as abandoning different safety precautions La Joya ISD previously suggested, such as removing sneeze guards from students’ desks. The removal of the mandate makes no sense because evidence has shown that masks prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In September of 2021, the Center for Disease Control(CDC) released numerous studies showing the importance of masking in schools. Studies, such as one from Arizona, show how school districts that did not implement universal masking policies were at higher risk of a COVID-19 outbreak. The report said that two of the state’s most populous counties were 3.5 times more likely for an outbreak. The CDC would also say that “facemasks when used as part of the larger strategy can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent outbreaks in schools.” As of today, the CDC continues to uphold this recommendation.
The second study, taken between July 1 and September 4, 2021, showed that pediatric COVID cases in counties with mask mandates had a rate of 16.32 cases per 100,000/day compared to counties without mandates with a rate of 34.85 cases per 100,000/day. This report shows how much of an impact masking policy can have on communities.
Early in the year, Texas school districts struggled to stay open because many teachers and bus drivers were calling in sick. Fort Worths Northwest ISD saw a nearly 900% case increase during this time.[need a warrant between previous and next] Northwest ISD does not have a masking mandate but does highly encourage students, employees, and visitors to wear a mask and socially distance when on district policy. The district has a student population of about 25,264.
The Hidalgo County Health and Human Service Department issued a press release on October 14, 2021, against public businesses/schools requiring face masks although, a school governing body shall vote to opt-out of the order. During this time, COVID cases were low, most of the time hardly reaching tripe digits but by the new year, cases would go up to over a thousand cases daily. On January 14, 2022, there were 11,157 new cases as opposed to the previous high of 1,329 cases on November 24, 2020. That is just over eight times as high.
Perhaps the only change that has been made is that people have stopped wearing their masks, both at school, at work, and even at the grocery store. These extreme increases in cases are something that we know how to prevent; possible school closures and outbreaks can be prevented.
Across different states, lawmakers, school districts, and even parents fight to get books pulled from public libraries and schools. Books being removed range from slavery and discrimination to the average teen coming-of-age novels.
There is a list of 850 books that lawmakers believe should be challenged in Texas alone. Why? The books are known for depicting anti-racism themes or LBGTQ+ characters. And, according to some, they are actively “poisoning young minds.”
Ironically, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ was banned from different schools in 2006. The book takes place in 2050 in a dystopian society where books are banned and burned. Fahrenheit 451 challenged it because it included vulgar language that some people may find offensive: one of the final books burned in the Bible.
Parents don’t seem to want their young, impressionable children reading anything that contains harsh language, violence, or anything that can be labeled as propaganda.
For example, ‘Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness’ is removed because it promotes racial justice and the children’s Black Lives Matter movement. Parents within the Eanes Independent School District in Austin, Texas, say that children’s books shouldn’t be promoting those types of ideologies. Other parents from the same district suggested replacing the non-fiction book ‘How to be an Anti-Racist’ with the Bible for the same reason.
Of course, these bans have been decades in the making. In the 1990s, a New York chancellor was essentially forced to remove the book ‘Heather Has Two Mommies’ from the school curriculum. This book was challenged because of its themes of homosexuality and anti-family, and the book would successfully become the most challenged in 1993.
Books about sexual health and puberty have also been removed, such as ‘It’s Perfectly Normal,’ has also been removed. The book is aimed at middle school students, and a mother in Haltom City, Texas, says that the material discussed isn’t appropriate for middle schoolers.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, though, some of these books do include not at all age-appropriate material. During a church group meeting, ‘Lawn Boy’ describes different sexual scenes between fourth-graders and a friendly reminder that fourth graders are nine years old.
‘Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts)’ is about a high schooler who runs a blog dedicated to sexual advice. Author Lev AC Rosen says that the book shows a much bigger narrative to empower queer teens.
He does make a point but, a book like that shouldn’t be widely available for children not in the demographic: high school students, 16-18-year-olds.
That type of content is, hate it or not, much too graphic for a middle schooler.
A young adult has access to those books, but that doesn’t mean that middle or elementary schools should have them shelved if the demographic doesn’t attend them. A middle schooler should not access a book with explicit material they aren’t emotionally mature enough for.
There is a big difference between banning a book because it’s labeled as propaganda and banning a book simply not appropriate for specific age groups. One limits the acceleration of information, and the other does something to protect children. People can make as many arguments as possible, but it will not change how only one makes sense.
School children shouldn’t be exposed to sexually explicit content in schools, but they should be exposed to newer and different political ideas, even if they can be seen as indoctrination.
Around 475 police officers have died due to complications with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The number is five times higher than the rate of gun death during the same period. COVID-19 has successfully become the leading cause of death among police officers.
If police officers joined the force to protect and serve, they should accept masks and vaccination mandates to help protect and serve themselves and their communities. Their deaths are preventable by the exact things they are actively fighting.
The NYPD issued a lawsuit against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaccine mandate for city workers in late October. A week prior, de Blasio announced that municipal workers such as firefighters and police officers would be required to have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by October 29. Workers were put on unpaid leave if they did not comply. About 30% of police officers are still unvaccinated.
The lawsuit was filed the same day thousands of New Yorkers participated in a protest of similar mandates. In Washington state, nearly 2,000 workers were either fired or left for not complying with mandates.
Different representatives, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, have compared mask mandates to the Nazis’ control of Jews during the holocaust; she compared a mass genocide to something meant to prevent death.
We know that masks work. We know that vaccines work. And yet, people still refuse them. They call these incredibly useful mandates oppressive. It’s unamerican. It violates their freedom.
Even though it’s a well-known fact that George Washington had a smallpox vaccine mandate during the Revolutionary War, sure, it wasn’t a full vaccine. Instead, soldiers were exposed to cowpox to increase their immunity to smallpox. The amateur inoculation helped Washington and his army win because his soldiers had a built-up immunity that helped prevent them from getting the disease.
Not to even mention the polio vaccine mandate that’s been active for the past few decades. Then the measles vaccine. Diphtheria. HPV. And, of course, smallpox. A disease that has been eradicated thanks to the vaccine against it.
We cannot talk about COVID-19 vaccines and not mention the countless people who say that they won’t trust it because of how quickly it was made.
There’s a reason why people are warned against calling COVID-19 coronavirus. It’s because coronavirus is not a single virus; it’s more of a family. Scientists were able to develop a vaccine so quickly because we know about the other viruses. Many of which are simple common colds. Others are much more serious, like SARS-CoV.
Canine coronavirus. The diseases aren’t even limited to humans. There are coronavirus vaccines for dogs. In a TikTok video, a creator finds an old bottle of the canine coronavirus vaccine and proceeds to question the credibility of current vaccines. And people reacted just as we’d think they would; they used it as an argument.
There are multiple types of coronaviruses. COVID-19 was identified in 2019. That’s where the 19 comes from. Canine coronavirus was first identified in 1971. The vaccine has existed since at least the 90s. Commenters on the original video say, “Oh, so the government has known about COVID-19 since the 90s?” A simple google search can prove all of their theories wrong, but they continue to refuse to accept facts.
In the morning of November 4, President Biden announced that private businesses with at least 100 employees would either need to require workers to be fully vaccinated or have a COVID-19 test taken weekly starting January 6. Almost immediately, governors from Iowa and Indiana vowed to fight the rule. Florida and Arkansas have also joined in the fight, with many other states expected to join. They state that it violates their freedom.
The entire conversation about vaccine mandates is not something new. And people opposing them due to heavy amounts of misinformation isn’t new either. Between 1998 and 2002, two different studies showed that measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines could cause autism.
The theories have since been proven wrong, and a few scientists have retracted their name from it though the theory hasn’t gone away.
A person does not develop autism; they are born with it. It is something that is produced while they are still in the womb. There is no way of telling if a fetus will be autistic. There is no medical test such as a blood test to diagnose the disorder. It’s behavioral. How would a vaccine for a virus affect a behavioral disorder? It doesn’t.
Vaccines don’t cause autism. COVID-19 vaccines hardly cause any severe side effects. COVID-19 is a heavily infectious disease. Not getting vaccinated does affect other people because once you’re exposed, others can be exposed. It’s almost certain. It’s not a matter of ‘my body, my choice’ when others are guaranteed to be affected.
People have been getting vaccinated since the moment they were born. A hepatitis vaccine is heavily suggested right after a child is born. The vitamin k vaccine has been recommended since 1961 because low vitamin k levels can result in severe bleeding and death in newborns. Yes, death due to vitamin k deficiency is rare, but it’s rare because of how often newborns are immunized. If someone is fully vaccinated by age 18, then they have had over a dozen vaccines. Why fight now?
There is no reason to be fighting vaccine mandates now. The world is over a year through a pandemic and killed over five million people globally. COVID-19 is the country’s biggest killer of police officers. They are actively proving that they would rather be jobless than have to deal with a few needles. They are actively fighting against the very thing they signed up for: protecting their communities because it damages their false sense of freedom.
Fighting vaccine mandates does nothing else than prove the level of concern for others is falling. Unemployment is preventable by vaccination. Death is preventable by vaccination.
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“For at that moment, the world is full of wonder as I feel her fingers reach for the buttons on my shirt, and slowly, ever so slowly, she begins to undo them one by one.” This is the ending line of The Notebook, perhaps the most popular romance written by Nicholas Sparks.
Although, the movie adaptation ends differently. There, we see Ally and Noah’s love interests, embracing each other, dying in each other’s arms. Of course, I know why the change was made, to make it more romantic. They’re soul mates. They spent so much time trying to be together, and here they are, dying in each other’s arms. What better way to end a lifelong romance?
Well, why not follow up with another romance with Noah and Ally’s children? There is a sequel to The Notebook that people seemed to have forgotten about—the Wedding. Okay, technically, it isn’t a sequel. But it might as well be. Sparks himself said that he “wrote about the next generation.”
In this novel, we follow Jane and Wilson, Noah and Ally’s daughter and son-in-law. They, sadly, are forced to recognize that the romance in their marriage has officially died. In fact, they never even had a wedding. They got married in front of a judge in a courthouse so Wilson could return to his job.
Wilson is desperately trying to win back the heart of his wife. He has spent years forgetting anniversaries, and he wants to somehow make it up to her for their 30th. He fears she fell out of love with him, and he wants to win her back.
So he goes to Noah. Perhaps the mastermind behind his own fifty-year love affair. The mastermind behind so many things, actually.
Coincidentally, Wilson’s youngest daughter Anna reveals that she has gotten engaged. And that she wants the wedding to happen within the next two weeks. On the same day as her parents’ wedding anniversary. Noah is alive, but he is sickly, something that comes with his age, so they all want the wedding to happen before his eventual passing.
Anna is young, 27, but still young. She doesn’t know what she wants. Or, more so, she wants her mother to believe that. So she lets Jane make the most important decisions, including Anna’s wedding dress.
Remember how I mentioned that Noah is the wonderful mastermind behind everything? Well, we may also have to add Wilson to that list. Before the engagement was revealed, he took a few weeks of vacation to prepare. He also managed to find caterers and a photographer who just happened to have an open spot on the right day. Then, of course, we have to mention the godly workers who found time in their schedule to fix up the venue. And I have to honor the guests who all had an open spot in their calendar. What a neat little coincidence!
Then we have our final chapter—arguably the most tearful. Slowly, Jane and Wilson become closer to the stress of their daughter. They go to the wedding venue, Ally and Noah’s old house turned retirement home. We watch Wilson drop off a dress for his daughter, but it’s not her wedding dress.
Anna gets ready, and so does everyone else. Then we see her walk down a set of stairs wearing the dress her father gave her that morning. Tears begin to fill Wilson’s eyes, and confusion fills Janes. She asks her daughter why she isn’t wearing her wedding dress; then it is all revealed. She is getting married, just not yet. It’s never been her wedding. It’s always been her mothers.
And then Jane turns to Wilson. Everything became so clear at that moment. Wilson was finally able to give Jane the wedding she had always dreamed of. She still has more questions, but Wilson leaves. Grooms are not supposed to see their brides before the reception; it’s bad luck.
Then the wedding happens. Wilson re-courts his wife.
It is extremely predictable and cliche, but honestly, what would you expect from romance? Everything is a cliche at this point, but it still works. It is a sappy story, and that might be what I love about it.
Though it really is a shame to see that this rendition does not get the love it deserves. I would love to see this as a movie, but it’s canon that both Ally and Noah pass in the movie version of The Notebook, and Noah is an important character in The Wedding.
This book was published in 2003, around the same time the filming took place for The Notebook. The ending was changed to make it more romantic, but I think that was the one useless one out of everything they changed. There is no reason that they had to die.
Nicholas Sparks is known for writing romances coated in tragedy. So while it’s romantic, it would match much better to his writing style if it ended with Ally dying in Noah’s arms and Noah waking to find her. It would be the final tragedy in their story—the perfect sad ending.
Of course, this is all my opinion, and I do not claim to be right. I would love to see The Wedding as its own movie and finally get the same love The Notebook or Dear John.
And so I leave you with my favorite line.
“But love, I’ve come to understand, is more than three words mumbled before bedtime. Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day.”
As UIL season kicks off, students are “Eager to participate” in the events, according to a member of the Ready Writing team Mia ‘Onyx’ Mendoza.
Each Monday and Tuesday, the school cafeteria holds a few dozen students waiting for their meetings to begin despite the first meet being weeks away.
Junior student Dominique Brown calls UIL a “Nice opportunity for children to get together and have a friendly competition between each other and also work on their skills.” She also said that because competitions won’t be face-to-face, students will be more relaxed when competing.
A Mission Veterans Memorial High School student says that the current pandemic should not keep people from enjoying a competition between schools. He also said that everything would be fine as long as students and faculty follow the rules set forward by school districts.
Jesus Menchaca, a sophomore student, says that he hopes to accomplish the goal he set for himself. He also hopes to make his teachers proud with everything he does.
Member of the debate and science team Luis Martinez believes that the year is good. He also says he enjoys how the year is going.
“I think that UIL is a different way for kids to learn sportsmanship,” Freshman student Janet Gomez said, “I’ve been doing science UIL all my middle school years, I was able to learn things that I would later acquire in the future.”
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