In an email sent out to the Concord Academy community on December 14th, 2020, Vice Head of School Sarah Yeh announced that hybrid learning will resume again on January 11th. Boarding will also open for STAC 4, and boarders can choose to return to campus on January 23rd. In this hybrid learning model, students who return in person will attend two times per week, coming to classes on either Mondays and Thursdays or Tuesdays and Fridays. 

For many students, the prospect of returning back to campus has been very exciting. Carter Wood ’22 states, “I am really excited to be back in person in some form, as the Zoom environment doesn’t actually allow students to interact with one another very often. I think that although the hybrid wasn’t perfect, it felt more normal and like I got my community back.” 

Several students share a similar sentiment. Nirantheri Vithiananthan ’22 agrees with Carter, adding that she prefers in-person learning and is excited to see some of her friends for the first time in nearly a year. However, she also shared her concern regarding the inevitable COVID-19 cases. “I don’t doubt that CA students will do everything they can to stay safe, but I also don’t want our school to be responsible for an increase in cases,” she says. 

On the contrary, some students, like Ricky Kundu ’22, are unhappy with how the timing of the return fits in with the STAC and semester schedule. Ricky feels that the return is very rushed, as it only gives students and teachers two weeks to wrap up STAC 3 and the first semester. “I think that it puts a lot of stress on the students, and that’s going to show in the next couple of weeks because we’re still reeling from break,” he says. 

Many boarders agree with Ricky’s point, as they will only be able to live in the dorms for five weeks before having to move out during spring break. Joanne Oh ’23, a boarder from Korea, shared, “I feel like a lot of people could benefit from returning in January (especially people who are in different time zones), but I also feel like it’s a hard decision to make because it’s a lot of risk and hassle for a short time of boarding.” This is particularly true for students who need to travel in order to get to CA. 

As a result of this conflict, there are many students who have not returned back to campus yet. Ken Zhang ’23 stated, “Personally, I find returning in January not really desirable for me. As an international boarder living in China, I need to quarantine for fourteen days before even entering the US, not to mention the quarantine guidelines in Massachusetts.” The current travel ban and quarantine guidelines makes it difficult for international students to board at CA, especially when they will only be able to stay for five weeks. 

Although there is always room for improvement, the CA community continues to do their best to accommodate students’ needs for learning. For many students, the return back to campus in January is one that they have been anticipating since last November, or even last March. Most students are excited to see their teachers and friends in person again this month, while others look forward to doing the same in March.

Photo courtesy of Sonny Tang ’22 | Photo Editor at The Centipede