The Catalyst / Peyton Daley

Helen Ciernick, Spiritual Life teacher

The Catalyst (TC): What was your initial reaction to the masked mandate being lifted at NDB?

Helen Ciernick (HC): I expected it because of what the San Mateo County Health and what was happening throughout the state. And so I expected it.


TC: How do you think that this has been going for the last week without having this being acquired?

HC: I think it’s been fine. I’m no longer having to ask students to put their masks back up and so students whose masks kept falling, they don’t have the aggravation of it falling down. They don’t have the aggravation of a teacher saying please put your mask back.


TC: Why do you choose to wear a mask?

HC: I choose to wear a mask because of my age. I’m overweight so I’m not in the best of health. My twin sister contracted COVID, a very mild case, and now she is on high blood pressure medicine where her blood pressure has always been on the low side. And her blood pressure was so dangerously high that she could not get on an airplane. And so I’m worried about long hauled COVID.


TC: What do you think of people who think differently from you, those that are not wearing masks?

HC: I truly believe it’s a personal choice. And we need to, as we say, we need to respect each other’s choice. If somebody was to ask me why, if their tone was just really out of curiosity, I’d answer. I wouldn’t have a problem with that.


TC: Do you think that dropping masks in schools was the best decision for the state to make?

HC: I don’t know. I haven’t given enough thought. I think that when masks are dropped the emphasis our school has put here on respecting other people’s choices, I think that is good. And if the schools are taking the teachers into account, as well.


TC: Do you think that there should be an online option for community members that aren’t comfortable with masking guidelines?

HC: I don’t know, I haven’t given it any thought. Because we do have some immunocompromised students, who, it’s a real challenge for them to come to school. I haven’t given that thought, it’s a good question.


TC: Do you find that teaching over Zoom is harder and having hybrid is harder than just teaching to a class in person?

HC: It is. It is because when I have people on Zoom, I can’t just walk away from my desk. And so you may have noticed that I’m out in front of my desk more. I’m walking up to students more. And you may recall when I had students on Zoom, I was carrying my computer around because I’m trying to keep both students engaged. I think the challenge is if we have the Zoom option, students who don’t need to, who can come to school choose not to come to school, and then that becomes a management problem.

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