As COVID-19 continues to decrease our chances of being on campus, students and teachers alike are becoming more and more frustrated. It has been six months since we went into quarantine, and it doesn’t seem like we will return to in-person schooling—or, frankly, most regular activities involving others—any time soon. We have to accept that there may be a “new normal,” but is returning to school in an uncertain and a potentially dangerous environment the best option? It will be tough for students to be back in the classroom without preventative measures—it is already difficult for sports teams, as teams are conditioning only outside and with great restrictions.
I asked a few teachers for their opinions on how to return to school. Susan Torales, head of the math department, said, “It’s going to be the same as how we have class right now, except you’re in the classroom [at Loyola]. I don’t see the point of stressing ourselves out to do that [going back to school]if it’s going to be the same as we do right now.” Torales realizes that high school students need to have social interactions both inside and outside of the classroom, but she doesn’t see much of a difference between being in the classroom and being on Zoom in the current environment.
Theology teacher John Ahearn ’07 told me, “You really realize how important personal interaction is. Obviously, I don’t miss the commute and I love sleeping in, but my schedule’s very off. But if I had the choice, I would absolutely go back to school; I’m just unsure of how the hybrid model will work, and cleaning the room after every class would just be so cumbersome.” During online schooling, Ahearn has enjoyed spending more time with his wife and son, so he doesn’t mind staying at home right now but still does desire a return to normalcy, if possible.
Science department chair Fawzia Qazi said, “I’m confident that any decisions the school would make would be consistent with the public health guidelines. The teachers had a meeting where some were on campus and some were on Zoom, and it seemed to work fine; if a hybrid system were set in place, I think it would be good for those students who want to stay home.”
However, some teachers feel uncomfortable returning to campus because they have elderly relatives living with them, so there is definitely a much higher risk. The prominent voice from teachers is that a hybrid system could work, but teachers would have to decide whether they want to come back to campus. Certainly, there must be measures in place in order for a safe and successful return to school to work.
Personally, I can’t imagine going back to normal without a vaccine … and even after we do have one, masks should still be required for a few months. Students will want to give each other handshakes or hugs and be in contact, so I just don’t see a way to return to school without a trusted and effective vaccine required for everyone.
We can hopefully be back on campus in a safe and timely manner to meet and reconnect with our Cub Brothers. I know we are all missing lunch-time basketball and having fun with our teachers and texting friends during class… err, I mean asking questions during class.