The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Breaking News: Webb experiences a surge of COVID-19 cases after students return from winter break

Bianca Arteaga
As day students returned to campus on Tuesday, January 4th, they waited inside their vehicles at the gym parking lot to be tested. The line was very long as each student had to wait for 15 minutes for the test result. Only students with negative test results were allowed on campus. Nevertheless, for the next three days, Webb still experienced an increase of COVID-19 cases, with seven students who tested positive on Friday.

The gym parking lot was crowded with cars on the evening of January 3rd as boarders gradually returned to campus. As cars slowly moved down the line in the dark, health center staff opened one test kit after another, and students anxiously awaited inside their cars for COVID-19 results. The next morning, the same drill continued as day students arrived.

As people returned from the winter holidays, a new wave of the Omicron variant caused a drastic spike of COVID-19 cases at a national and state level. Despite America’s 62 percent fully vaccinated population, nationwide new cases have reached a record high of 313,061 as of January 9, 2022. In L.A. county, the daily positive cases rose from around 1,800 in mid-December to a shocking number of 45,553 on January 9th, 2022. This concerning surge directly impacted the Claremont local community and Webb, as some Webb students already tested positive or showed symptoms during break and had to remain in isolation.

With a number of students and staff under quarantine and isolation, Webb classrooms have become quieter, and students who could not come to school participate on Zoom. The administration expected this increase in positive cases among the Webb community.

“We were anticipating to have a ‘rolling set’ of students who are going to be either positive or [in quarantine] because they were close contacts and not fully vaccinated or boosted,” said Melanie Bauman, Director of Counseling and Health Education.

Fortunately, the symptoms of the Omicron variant are much less severe than those of the original virus. Everyone who tested positive has had mild or no symptoms. However, the virus is also spreading at a rapid pace, as more and more Webb members tested positive. On Friday, January 7th, seven students tested positive, according to an email sent by Theresa Smith, Associate Head of Schools.

To control the increase of positive COVID-19 cases, Webb responded quickly and implemented new guidelines to ensure the health and safety of the community.

“We are now rolling into a new stage,” Ms. Bauman said. “We now have a number of people who are going to be or currently eligible for boosters, so we are in a critical stage right now until everyone is boosted again and that brings our community back to herd immunity.”

As a response to increased COVID-19 cases among the student body and the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, Webb has changed its testing schedule to make sure each community member tests twice a week. People identified as close contacts also test more frequently and have to quarantine for five days if they are not fully vaccinated.

At the same time, the school has also temporarily suspended off-campus weekend programming, overnight passes, and sports games until January 16th. At the same time, masking and distancing requirements continue, especially in sports and other afternoon activities.

“We are trying to ‘thread that needle’ between having a life here and getting to do the things that give us joy, and also making sure that we have some safety while doing that,” Ms. Bauman said.

Despite the current hybrid model—with some students on Zoom and most in-person—Webb is committed to not closing down as a school. Webb would only close down if the county requires that it closes down and if there is unmitigated county-wide spread that is overloading the hospitals. As of right now, the possibility is still low.

However, there is still a possibility of returning to online learning given the current situation. According to the health center, it is about a six-week window where the surge is happening. Based on the current model, there will be a peak around the second week of February.

“We know that we are probably going to see more people online,” Ms. Bauman said. “There might be a point that we might have to temporarily be online, meaning boarding students might have to be in their dorm and day students would be at home.”

As Webb continues to monitor the spread, it has planned for all kinds of possibilities and has a plan for all contingencies.

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About the Contributors
Sunny Yu, Editor-in-Chief
Sunny Yu (‘22) is a prime example of the protagonist personality. As a natural leader, she is active, thoughtful, caring, and serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the WCC, a member of the Chapel Council, the captain of the varsity cross-country team, and a founding member of Webb’s Breakfast literary magazine. Sunny is also vocal and passionate about the enforcement of social justice and representation of marginalized groups: at the WCC, she utilizes journalism as a tool to shed light on many controversial issues, never shying away from the ability to make a lasting impact. During the weekends, you can often find her on a run to “The Spot,” a smoothie shop, playing soccer on Chandler, and occasionally annoying the library staff for borrowing too many books, such as her favorite, Waiting for the Barbarians, a wonderful allegory on human relationships. As a protagonist, she finds joy in guiding young journalists to grow into their best selves. This year, Sunny hopes that the WCC can continue covering important topics and spark conversations while bringing people laughter and keeping them informed. Favorite song: "Sunflower Feelings" by Kuzu Mellow
Cathy Wang, Editor-in-Chief
Cathy Wang (‘22), an international boarding student from Shanghai, returns to Webb this year not only as the Editor-in-Chief for the WCC- but also as a dorm prefect and admissions fellow. She is excited to be back on campus, taking new classes and reconnecting with the Webb community. So far, Cathy’s favorite course that she has taken at Webb has been Advanced Studies Fascism with Ms. Fisher, which she enjoyed because of how the course related to current issues that she cares about, such as education and gender inequality. These are just a few of the topics that Cathy hopes to shed some more light on, both via the WCC and in person. Outside of classes, Cathy enjoys playing badminton and tennis, reading Latin literature or magical realism, and taking occasional trips to the Claremont Village. Additionally, you might also find her sipping her daily coffee or eating any kind of Japanese food. As the world slowly comes back from the pandemic and Webb shifts to in-person learning, Cathy hopes for the WCC to serve as a facilitator for the Webb community in fostering much-needed connections between people. Favorite song: "I Lost A Friend" by Finneas
Emily Li, Chief of Media
Emily Li ('24) is not your usual iPad kid. You might see her using her tablet, but trust me: she isn't playing Roblox. She is a passionate artist who loves to create artwork on her iPad. Emily's favorite thing to draw is the people around her, focusing on experimenting with colors. She also enjoys dancing to popular K-pop stars IU and Mamamoo. Just like her top-notch dancing skills, she has a crazy tolerance for spicedo not be surprised when you see her empty bottle of sriracha. However, Emily's dynamic personality is not confined to her personal endeavors. As head peer advisor, she steps into a leadership role that suits her naturally empathetic and social nature. She finds joy in building bridges, fostering connections, and offering a sympathetic ear to those around her. One of Emily’s main goals this year is to give as much love as she can to the world. At the Webb canyon chronicle is to improve the diversity of articles and further refine the website after designing it. In a world where each stroke of her digital pen, every dance step, and all her interactions paint a picture of her vibrant self, Emily Li stands not only as a multitalented artist, leader, athlete and beacon of positivity, illuminating everything she touches with her unique and colorful perspective. 
Jenny Wang, Editor-in-Chief
Returning after a transformative summer at Northwestern University, Jenny Wang ('24) is rejoining the Webb Canyon Chronicle as Co-Editor-in-Chief, bursting with fresh journalism skills. Jenny is primarily humble when talking about her talents and interests, she occasionally forgets to flex that she is also a pianist, flutist, comedy enthusiast, and badminton pro. As a prominent figure at Webb, Jenny serves on the VWS honor cabinet, captain of the debate team, and chapel council. Finding comfort in shows like Grey's Anatomy and Gilmore Girls, she balances the demands of her busy life. Jenny's academic pursuits lean towards humanitarian issues; over the summer, she invested extra time into political risk research, specifically analyzing aspects of Israeli lifestyle. Beyond her academic commitments, Jenny's mission this year is to infuse WCC articles with potent and well-balanced viewpoints. Her intellect, vibrant personality, and unwavering laughter contribute to an environment full of energy and positivity. There is no doubt, Jenny Wang embodies a dynamic blend of talents, passions, and determination that enriches both the Webb community and the wider world. Through her versatile contributions and infectious laughter, Jenny's presence leaves an indelible mark, reminding us all of the power of embracing one's passions and sharing them with the world.  Favorite Song: "Welcome to Wonderland" by Anson Seabra
Bianca Arteaga, Public Editor
Do you know many busy bees at Webb? If you don't, then maybe you haven't met Bianca Arteaga ('22)—a self-described bee, she is productive, cheerful, and hardworking. She is, like many productive people, a morning person, and very organized. So perhaps it is no surprise that she is taking on the added challenge of AP Spanish this year, in order to better help people internationally in the future. Bianca eventually wants to become a lawyer and help people worldwide, which she may need Spanish for. For now, Bianca wants to help people locally by using the WCC to teach freshmen and sophomores to love Webb as she does. Bianca's other passion is protecting the environment. Despite being a very busy and successful student, Bianca is also very skilled in the athletic department. She is the varsity softball captain and hopes to continue playing even once she goes to college. Besides her work, Bianca also has a fun side: she loves playing the guitar, is obsessed with Taylor Swift, enjoys watching romcoms, and loves dad jokes. Bianca's many interests, well-balanced lifestyle, and unwavering work ethic truly make her a queen bee! Favorite song: "All Too Well" by Taylor Swift

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    Stephen Li | Jan 10, 2022 at 10:39 AM

    Great article! Wow. Not the best news, but praying for those who tested positive! Stay safe journalists. Good work