Abby Hogan

It’s the week after homecoming. I sit in my classes staring at countless empty seats. “Hoco-cough” quickly becomes a common phrase. Why? Because someone came to the dance sick not wearing a mask. 

   Countless students were seen without masks on. Masks work. Why not wear them correctly? Especially at a dance where everyone is in a tight space. 

   Most sicknesses could have been avoided if people would have just worn masks. It’s the days following the dance. I walk into each of my classes. In first hour, my teacher is quarantined from Covid-19 for two weeks. She chaperoned the dance. In my second hour, there are at least four people absent. 

   In my third hour, six people are absent. Fourth hour I’m surrounded by people coughing and sneezing who shouldn’t even be at school. Fifth hour my normal class of about 20 is down to thirteen. Sixth hour my class went from 18 to about 15. 

   I’m asking myself if I should be going to school because I don’t want to risk getting sick. Luckily I didn’t get sick, but many of my friends did. 

   I heard people saying they had to get tested for strep throat as well as Covid-19. Most tested negative for both but were still out sick for a week. 

   No one knows what this sickness is so the term “hoco sickness” is used by students and staff. I fully believe that the root of this problem was the people at the dance who simply didn’t wear a mask. Jr. Caden Mika remembers walking around the dance floor and seeing countless people near the center not wearing masks. 

   Even with the giant fan on the dance floor, there was barely any air circulation. The cafeteria got so hot that a crowd of people fled outside all at once. These were the same people who weren’t wearing masks. 

   Students had to take their masks off to eat popcorn and drink water. So even if people had worn a mask throughout the whole dance anyone could have sickness spread to them.

   Students also piled into the photo booth to take pictures with their groups of friends and most took their masks off. While understandably no one wants to be wearing a mask in their pictures, this also could have been a culprit to the spread of sickness at the dance. 

  People in my classes weren’t just sick with the “hoco-cough,” they were also getting Covid-19. We were lucky that homecoming didn’t cause a giant Covid-19 outbreak. 

   In my math class one student has been sick since the week of homecoming. Students in my journalism class and my choir classes had Covid-19 and were out of school for two weeks due to quarantining. 

   This not only affects the students who are sick but also the students who aren’t. With so many people getting sick for that week of homecoming, a lot of my teachers had to spend class time reviewing past lessons. 

   Widespread quarantine stopped students from progressing to future lessons forcing their class to be behind in lesson plans. 

   Luckily, some people did pay attention to the mask mandate at the dance. Without these people I think that the sickness at our school would have been a lot worse. 

   No one likes masks, but if they can protect others, people should just wear one. The only reason we were allowed to have the homecoming dance inside was because of masks and vaccines. 

   If we would have had homecoming outside on the football field like other schools did then people would have complained about being cold. We were lucky we got to have a homecoming dance in the first place. Let alone have it inside.

   If the school looked at the attendance data and decided they didn’t want to jeopardize people getting sick again then their only option would be to cancel future dances. 

   Doctors have been wearing masks all day for hundreds of years. Orthopedic sports medicine Dr. Ben Smucker from Goshen, Indiana said, “Masks work to help prevent spreading of germs. That’s why we have worn them during surgery for over 100 years.” 

   If surgeons and doctors can wear masks for hours on end every day then why can’t students wear one for a few hours. 

   If students would have just worn masks at homecoming then a lot of sickness and absences could have been avoided. 

   People are jeopardizing others’ health for no reason other than that they don’t want to wear a mask. 

   At some point people will have to realize that the pandemic won’t end without everyone contributing. And until that happens, the activities we look forward to every year are at jeopardy of being cancelled. 

   This issue is bigger than just homecoming dances. “Hoco cough” won’t be the only sickness that spreads. The world will never be the same until people get vaccinated and wear masks. Until then, we need to be more conscious of how fast sickness can spread and be proactive in stopping the spread.