As everyone in the Concord Academy community knows, the school’s reopening process has raised a lot of questions and concerns among students, teachers, and parents. With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Boston and in-person classes having started, more and more concerns are being expressed. Amidst all of the concern and chaos regarding this recent spike in cases, Boston Public Schools decided to switch to all remote classes, leaving many CA students wondering if the return to in-person classes was the right decision for the school.
A few members of the sophomore class shared their thoughts on the school reopening as few sophomore borders are attending in-person classes. Over the past few weeks, many CA families have been forced to consider whether or not returning to campus is worth the risk. The majority of day students seem to have returned to campus with a small majority of the boarding community committing to virtual learning for STAC 2. To emphasize other perspectives – virtual day students and in-person boarders, we interviewed two sophomores, each with a unique view on the HyFlex system.
Madison McCaslin ’23, a day student from Wellesley, Massachusetts, initially planned to attend in-person school, but she and her family made the decision to stay virtual this past week.
“While my family and I have made the decision to continue with virtual learning, I’m happy that other people will have the opportunity to go back to school in-person. These past few months have been difficult, and I think the lack of social interaction in particular has taken a bit of a toll on everyone. I think it’ll be good for classmates, teachers, and other members of the faculty/staff to see each other again, and at least be back on campus in some way,” Madison shared.
When asked about how the spike in cases in Boston has impacted her decision, Madison explained, “While CA has taken the necessary precautions to ensure that all members of the community remain healthy, the recent spike of cases in Massachusetts has been cause for worry. Massachusetts has remained a fairly neutral state throughout the pandemic, so this new wave of cases was a bit unforeseen.” Madison later explained that although no one in her family is high-risk, attending classes two times a week for only a couple of weeks did not seem worth the risk.
As many people have expressed, another big concern of many is not only how the virus will affect them, but how it will affect others. Madison elaborated, “The coronavirus is dangerous and can affect those who don’t have underlying conditions as well as those who do. I hope everyone can make the most of their in-person time at CA, but also stay safe.”
Lastly, Madison was asked how she thought her learning would be impacted by only being able to attend classes virtually. She replied, “It’s not too much of an issue because even in a virtual setting, teachers have been great about creating slots of time in which you can meet with them, or just answering questions over Gmail.”
Another big tradeoff that students experienced while making the decision to remain virtual is the sense that they may be missing out on their education. The student we spoke to told us that she is already feeling the sense that she is missing out on the potential that this school year could have had academically. “In person learning is so much more different than virtual, and I am a very hands-on, kinesthetic learner… when we learn about the Mid-Autumn Festival in Mandarin, to be able to see was Mooncakes look like and taste like, or in Chemistry, to be able to do labs, because that really does help me to understand science.” She shared that connectivity also poses a challenge.
Finally, we interviewed Christian “Chris” Setalsingh-Nazaire ’23, a boarder who is choosing to come to campus for HyFlex learning. Chris is very excited about in-person classes.
“I feel like the online experience was holding me back or has been holding me back from the ‘normal’ high school experience. When I first imagined high school and especially going to CA, I envisioned being around a close-knit community. Especially as a boarder, being able to be around people, interact with them, and make friends, was one of the goals of high school,” Chris shared when asked about why he decided to return to campus, despite being one of four sophomore boarders on campus.
Many boarders decided not to return because of the risk it puts on them and those around them. But Chris seemed relatively unworried about the risk to himself. “I am scared to get the virus and be the reason that it spreads to other people and to other families,” Chris elaborated. He later went on to explain that one of his big concerns is that since people come to CA from so many different places, he is worried that an outbreak at CA could lead to an outbreak in one of the many different locations that students are from.
Similarly, Chris voiced his opinions onday students returning to campus as well, “As a boarder, I feel like the isolation that we have on campus definitely keeps us less exposed to the virus than the day students. I feel like the day students have a higher risk of contracting the virus and spreading it because they go home to their families who have probably also been exposed in other scenarios.”
With so many different opinions on how the school opening will affect people’s safety, learning, and stress, the future of COVID-19 in Massachusetts and across the country is still unclear. However, CA students and families are doing their best to maneuver around these difficulties and the CA community will continue to do so despite uncertainty.