Returning to School During the Pandemic: Is it Safe?
By: Gabriella Nobou
As we return to full in-person learning at Conard in the midst of the pandemic, COVID-19 restrictions and regulations will inevitably become more lenient in the school environment. Although it is a positive change from students being divided amongst cohorts, the return to a full in-person schedule could be detrimental to regulations regarding the pandemic and thus potentially jeopardize the health of students and staff at Conard. As of Thursday, March 25th, being back in school full time for just over a week, there has already been a spike in the number of students quarantined, with 71 Conard students out of school, being the most in West Hartford currently. As the school population conforms back to an almost normal capacity, restrictions set in place regarding the pandemic are being overlooked. With more students in the building, social distancing habits have become more difficult to maintain. Personally, I and many others feel that classrooms have become much more compact in terms of population, and due to this, distancing habits have depleted in some classrooms. With the school so populous, hallways and stairways have become much more densely populated and difficult to navigate as well, with students tightly packed aside one another as they voyage from class to class.
With this, mask-wearing has also become more nonchalant for some students as we ease into a school environment further towards normalcy. Some students have let their guard down on covid-19 restrictions, as they come into contact with friends at school who they may not have socialized with for a long time due to the pandemic outbreak. However, students with allergies and respiratory complications such as asthma might struggle with the school’s newfound overpopulation and leniency of COVID-19 regulations after being used to only the separate cohorts in school at a time. It’s difficult to adapt to school at this capacity for the first time all year, seven months into the school year. Thus, especially before student vaccinations, it can be argued that the full-in person return to Conard could be much safer. Although this step towards normalcy is one very much needed as we surpass a full year in the pandemic, reinforcement of social distancing in classrooms by any means necessary should still be implemented for the safety of all students. It would also be beneficial to have a reinforced mask mandate for any students neglecting statutes of mask-wearing. This mandate would promote the overall safety and wellness of the Conard community and ultimately lessen the vulnerability of all students - especially those with allergies or respiratory conditions - to get sick. All in all, to make this a safe transition to in-person school, remember to wear a mask, practice social distancing when it is possible, and continue habits of sanitation and personal cleanliness.