Students debate safety of school reopening

Students sit distanced and masked at Third Form orientation on September 8, 2020 – Agustin Aliaga ’21

As summer comes to a close, students prepare to begin school in unconventional fashion. The opening ceremony is a thing of the past. Lunch will be delivered to students. Masks are required. And most importantly, since the coronavirus remains a severe hazard, many across the nation and the region wonder if returning to an in-person learning environment is the best call.

     Some students are wary of going back to school, as they find the potential risks serious causes for concern.

     “If a small percentage don’t listen [to the rules], it will affect so many students and ruin the precautions put in place,” Fifth Former Ethan Saddler commented.

     Others also feel that the dangers of in-person learning outweigh the benefits.

     “As someone with immuno-compromisd family members, I do not feel safe going back into the school environment, mostly because I think it’s difficult to enforce proper distancing and health regulations in an environment as closed off as the high school,” Fifth Former Patrick Corcoran said.

     Those worried that students will fail to comply with the school’s mandates and regulations might have good reason. Images and videos of large parties with no one wearing masks are serious causes for concern, and in a pandemic, nothing is certain.

     But the school hopes its reopening plan creates an environment that severely limits potential viral spread. Class size is severely limited to keep social distancing, and the school asks students to stay silent when they are without a mask, and individuals, classes, and even entire grades may be sent home to quarantine if necessary.

     These changes have convinced many to trust the school and go back to a somewhat traditional learning environment, even if some uncertainty remains.

     “I wouldn’t call school safe at the moment, but since the risk can be mitigated or at least reduced, I think a lot of people are willing to take that risk,” Fifth Former Elijah Lee remarked.

“With the guidelines the school has put out, as long as students follow them, we should be safe.”

Matthew Kang ’23

     The school has laid down a cohesive plan that could keep the student body healthy. The community now needs to follow regulations and mandates so that Haverford can continue teaching in person.

     Fourth Former Matthew Kang believes in the plan. “Safety is not something that can be ensured,” Kang said, “but with the guidelines the school has put out, as long as students follow them, we should be safe.”