Fighting The Virus – And Isolation

In response to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, the school has developed new protocols this year in order to ensure a safe and healthy campus. Some of the new rules during quarantine included masking in the dorms at all times (except when students are in their own rooms), temporary Zoom classes, no interdorming, and no outside visitors. However, even though the current COVID-19 protocols have been effective, they have presented a number of disadvantages for students, including a dramatic decrease in social, face-to-face interactions. These important protocols should continue to be implemented, but the school should also focus on improving the aspects of student life that were affected by them.

It is true that students have gotten used to attending online classes over Zoom as an alternative to meeting in person. Many students agree that Zoom is a helpful tool to catch up with work when they are not present on-campus. Mary Tyree ’23 said, “Zoom classes are the best and only alternative when students are put at risk due to Covid.” 

However, it’s also true that in-person learning is indisputably healthier than learning over a computer screen. Staying on campus and physically participating in community activities is conducive to better academics and mental wellbeing. Attending Zoom meetings in lockdown, confined to dorm rooms, limits the social interactions that are an essential aspect of student life. The lack of extracurriculars during this time frame only reinforces the problem. Even a few days of isolation could be damaging to students’ mental health. In future transitions the school should facilitate masked, outdoor sports and activities that will fulfill students’ social needs and allow them to exercise at the same time. Darcy Dwyer ’25, said, “It can be hard on students and being confined to our rooms is hard on us because we can’t go to do sports and hang out with friends. It’s hard on mental health.”

Currently, the school requires masking in dorms at all times unless a student is alone in their own room, even when using the bathroom. Although it is a CT executive order, and an understandable one at that, masks need to be worn in the class. Since we all live together in the same dorm, we shouldn’t have to wear them around our friends that live in the same dorm as us. We also are eating food in the dining hall, unmasked, with the same people from our dorm. 

Additionally, as of this writing, athletes’ friends and family are not allowed to come to games held at the school. However, other schools in our athletic conference, such as Taft and Loomis Chaffee, allow parents to support their children at games, which is important to many students. As of this writing, the School has already completed its initial round of COVID-19 testing and is continuing to contact trace community members, which should warrant spectators being able to visit campus (as long as they have also tested negative). Compared to other schools, Maggie Johnson ’23, a Junior at the Loomis Chaffee School, says, “Loomis is doing a good job at taking what students need into consideration….I think it is the closest to normal it can get so I appreciate it.” Considering that we haven’t seen our parents in a long time, students at these schools say it’s nice when parents come, since we don’t get to see them often. 

Even though the School should focus on student life during the pandemic, it is important that COVID-19 protocols continue to be implemented to ensure the community’s safety. Ms. Danielle Shippey, Director of Health Services at the School, said, “Typically [infected students’] symptoms are mild; however, they can still spread the virus to others.” It is important that the community should continue to be mindful of members’ health by adhering to the existing protocols.