As Concord Academy reopened in the beginning of 2021, many students chose to resume a hybrid schedule of in-person and remote learning. Feedback from the previous piloting program provided the CA community with knowledge of areas with room for improvement, and they were taken into careful consideration as faculty modified the mechanism of the in-person program. The spring reopening began with new changes made in several aspects. Overall, stricter rules are being implemented to reinforce safe practices and behaviors among the in-person community, and a wider variety of student activities is being made available.
How students dine has always been a great concern, as the experience entails risky behaviors in the context of the pandemic, such as taking off one’s mask. This spring, some significant changes have been made in regard to dining. For example, during lunch, day students and boarders must sit in separate locations, while previously the two groups were allowed to eat together in the same space. Tents have been set up for day students to have their meals, while boarders have the option to eat at the Stufac or in their rooms. In addition, the seating arrangement in the Stufac has been modified, allowing less people to eat at one table.
There have also been more clarifications to where in-person students should go during break time. Specific locations are listed out for each grade, and every location has an adult responsible for managing attendance. More roamers are seen around the campus, who offer constant reminders to groups of students that aren’t keeping a safe social distance.
The boarding side of the program has also changed to accommodate more returning students while ensuring their safety. Upon their arrival at CA, boarders had to be tested for COVID and quarantine until their results were released and confirmed negative. During this period of isolation, the dorms adopted extra rules to guarantee minimal in-person contact between students. For instance, the “domino” method was used for many boarding activities during the quarantine. Boarders would go down to the common room one by one in a fixed order to pick up their lunch, obtain items for a certain activity, and so on. After the quarantine ended, they were informed of more detailed rules such as that during in-person check-ins, the student has to wear a mask and step back immediately after opening the door to ensure safe distancing. In addition to house parents’ weekly check-ins, house leads would also come around to chat with each boarder, which offered them a healthy outlet to voice their emotions and concerns.
Though in-person interactions are limited, the program has been enriched with more activities. Indoor practices for certain sports like squash have been made available, while previously it was only practiced outdoors without formal equipment. CA’s ice rink also opened, and fun outdoor activities like Disc Golf are ongoing during the weekends. While enjoying the in-person experience, we always have to keep our priority—safety—in mind. Let’s not forget to thank and appreciate those who work together to provide us an ever-improving school environment during this unprecedented time.