When my parents first asked me whether I wanted to go back to in-person school during the fall, I was originally quite hesitant after thinking about all the possible risks I was putting myself, my family and friends in with my decision. On one hand, the CDC specifically outlined on their website that while attending in-person school most definitely has benefits such as easier access to resources and a more social environment, there are also risks involved. These risks are something I’ve heavily debated while making my decision, but in the end I’ve decided to go back to school.
Firstly, when compared to other high schools in the country, Hockaday not only has a smaller student body than the average high school, but also has larger facilities to allow students to adequately social distance. Also, class sizes for this school year are smaller at around 10 to 12 students per Upper School classroom, allowing students to be able to spread out more in the classroom setting and preventing transmission of the virus even further. Moreover, Hockaday has stated how each student must be double masked throughout the day and will be penalized if they do not follow the school-wide COVID-19 guidelines.
With that being said, there are many academic benefits to returning to school. These include being able to engage in class discussions face-to-face, having easier access to conferencing with teachers and generally being in a more social environment with less time on screens. However, while I think it is important to make memories during my senior year, I most definitely do not think that is as important as another person’s life. I acknowledge that I am not at high risk for having a severe reaction if I got COVID-19, but that has not stopped me from taking many precautions for the people around me who might be at a higher risk. In-person learning could be both safe and effective, but only if everyone is patient as well as appreciative that we have the opportunity to go back to Hockaday at all. While there are many benefits of learning in an in-person environment, please do not abuse these benefits and follow safe protocol to protect everyone from the virus.
One of the things that concerned me the most while making my decision was the thought of the people around me not taking the virus as seriously as I do and not socially distancing outside of school. If you are a student returning to in-person classes for this school year, please take the severity of COVID-19 seriously and make decisions with the knowledge that you could negatively impact someone’s life as well as your own. The reality that my senior year is not going to be “normal” is something that has been upsetting to everyone, and I recognize that, but I also recognize that this is a reality that we need to take seriously.
I believe that it is a privilege to be able to return to in-person classes this fall, and I hope that the people around me recognize this too. Protecting the Hockaday community is a group effort, and the only way remaining in face-to-face classes will work is if we all follow Hockaday and CDC protocol for returning to school. Finally, if at any point you are exposed to the virus or do not feel healthy, then do not go to in-person class. If at any point you feel unsafe attending in-person classes, then change back to virtual learning. While I hope we are able to continue face-to-face classes throughout the year, I understand these times can be scary. I’m grateful we have distance learning to lean back on in case it becomes necessary, and I believe it’s something we should use to our advantage. With that in mind, deciding to attend in-person school this fall is the right choice for me.